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T.B. Phillips Stewart, B.A.,LL.B 



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THE CENTAUR 




MACMILLAN AND CO., Limited 

LONDON • BOMBAY • CALCUTTA 
MELBOURNE 

THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 

NEW YORK • BOSTON • CHICAGO 
ATLANTA • SAN FRANCISCO 

THE MACMILLAN CO. OF CANADA, Ltd. 

TORONTO 



.7 ,J I 






THE CENTAUR 



BY 



ALGERNON BLACKWOOD 

AUTHOR or ' EDUCATION OF UNCLE PAUL,' 

'jiMBO,* 'human chord,' etc. 



WITH A DESIGN BT W. GRAHAM ROBERTSON 




MACMILLAN AND CO., LIMITED 

ST. MARTIN'S STREET, LONDON 

191 1 



TO 

RARE TYPE OF BEING : 
AN INTELLECTUAL MYSTIC. 



I 

* We may be in the Universe as dogs and cats are in our libraries, 
seeing the books and hearing the conversation, but having no inkling 
of the meaning of it all.' — William James, A Pluralistic Uninjerse. 

* ... A man's vision is the great fact about him. Who cares for 
Carlyle's reasons, or Schopenhauer's, or Spencer's ? A philosophy is 
the expression of a man's intimate character, and all definitions of 
the Universe are but the deliberately adopted reactions of human 
characters upon it.' — Ibid, 

There are certain persons who, independently of sex 
or comeliness, arouse an instant curiosity concerning 
themselves. The tribe is small, but its members 
unmistakable. They may possess neither fortune, 
good looks, nor that adroitness of advance-vision 
which the stupid name good-luck ; yet there is about 
them this inciting quality which proclaims that they 
have overtaken Fate, set a harness about its neck of 
violence, and hold bit and bridle in steady hands. 

Most of us, arrested a moment by their presence 
to snatch the definition their peculiarity exacts, are 
aware that on the heels of curiosity follows — envy. 
They know the very things that we for ever seek 
in vain. And this diagnosis, achieved as it were 
en passant, comes near to the truth, for the hall-mark 
of such persons is that they have found, and come 
into, their own. There is a sign upon the face and 
in the eyes. Having somehow discovered the ' piece ' 
that makes them free of the whole amazing puzzle. 



2 THE CENTAUR i 

they know where they belong and, therefore, whither 
they are bound : more, they are definitely en route. 
The littlenesses of existence that plague the majority 
pass them by. 

' For this reason, if for no other,' continued 
O'Malley, ' I count my experience with that man as 
memorable beyond ordinary. " If for no other," 
because from the very beginning there was another. 
Indeed, it was probably his air of unusual bigness, 
massiveness rather, — head, face, eyes, shoulders, 
especially back and shoulders, — that struck me first 
when I caught sight of him lounging there hugely 
upon my steamer deck at Marseilles, winning my 
instant attention before he turned and the expression 
on his great face woke more — woke curiosity, interest, 
envy. He wore this very look of certainty that 
knows, yet with a tinge of mild surprise as though 
he had only recently known. It was less than 
perplexity. A faint astonishment as of a happy 
child — almost of an animal — shone in the large 
brown eyes ' 

'You mean that the physical quality caught you 
first, then the psychical .'' ' I asked, keeping him to 
the point, for his Irish imagination was ever apt to 
race away at a tangent. 

He laughed good-naturedly, acknowledging the 
check. ' I believe that to be the truth,' he rephed, 
his face instantly grave again. * It was the impression 
of uncommon bulk that heated my intuition — blessed 
if I know how — leading me to the other. The size 
of his body did not smother, as so often is the case 
with big people : rather, it revealed. At the moment 
I could conceive no possible connection, of course. 
Only this overwhelming attraction of the man's 
personality caught me and I longed to make friends. 



I THE CENTAUR 3 

That's the way with me, as you know,' he added, 
tossing the hair back from his forehead impatiently, 
' — pretty often. First impressions. Old man, I 
tell you, it was like a possession.' 

' I believe you,' I said. For Terence O'Malley 
all his life had never understood half measures. 



II 

* The friendly and flowing savage, who is he ? Is he waiting for 
civilization, or is he past it, and mastering it ? ' — Whitman. 

* We find ourselves to-day in the midst of a somewhat peculiar state 
of society, which we call Civilisation, but which even to the most 
optimistic among us does not seem altogether desirable. Some of us, 
indeed, are inclined to think that it is a kind of disease which the 
various races of man have to pass through. . . . 

'While History tells us of many nations that have been attacked by 
it, of many that have succumbed to it, and of some that are still in 
the throes of it, we know of no single case in which a nation has fairly 
recovered from and passed through it to a more normal and healthy 
condition. In other words, the development of human society has 
never yet (that we know of) passed beyond a certain definite and 
apparently final stage in the process we call Civilisation ; at that stage 
it has always succumbed or been arrested.' — Edward Carpenter, 
Civilisation : its Cause and Cure. 

O'Malley himself is an individuality that invites 
consideration from the ruck of commonplace men. 
Of mingled Irish, Scotch, and English blood, the 
first predominated, and the Celtic element in him 
was strong. A man of vigorous health, careless of 
gain, a wanderer, and by his own choice something 
of an outcast, he led to the end the existence of a 
rolling stone. He lived from hand to mouth, never 
quite growing up. It seemed, indeed, that he never 
could grow up in the accepted sense of the term, for 
his motto was the reverse of nil admirari^ and he 
found himself in a state of perpetual astonishment at 
the mystery of things. He was for ever deciphering 

4 



II THE CENTAUR 5 

the huge horoscope of Life, yet getting no further 
than the House of Wonder, on whose cusp surely he 
had been born. Civilization, he loved to say, had 
blinded the eyes of men, filling them with dust 
instead of vision. 

An ardent lover of wild out-door life, he knew 
at times a high, passionate searching for things 
of the spirit, when the outer world fell away 
like dross and he seemed to pass into a state 
resembling ecstasy. Never in cities or among his 
fellow-men, struggling and herded, did these times 
come to him, but when he was abroad with the 
winds and stars in desolate places. Then, some- 
times, he would be rapt away, caught up to see 
the tail-end of the great procession of the gods 
that had come near. He surprised Eternity in a 
running Moment. 

For the moods of Nature flamed through him — 
in him — like presences, potently evocative as the 
presences of persons, and with meanings equally 
various : the woods with love and tenderness ; the 
sea with reverence and magic ; plains and wide 
horizons with the melancholy peace and silence as 
of wise and old companions ; and mountains with a 
splendid terror due to some want of comprehension 
in himself, caused probably by a spiritual remoteness 
from their mood. 

The Cosmos, in a word, for him was psychical, 
and Nature's moods were transcendental cosmic 
activities that induced in him these singular states of 
exaltation and expansion. She pushed wide the gate- 
ways of his deeper life. She entered, took possession, 
dipped his smaller self into her own enormous and 
enveloping personality. 

He possessed a full experience, and at times a 



6 THE CENTAUR ii 

keen judgment, of modern life ; while underneath, 
all the time lay the moving sea of curiously wild 
primitive instincts. An insatiable longing for the 
wilderness was in his blood, a craving, vehement, 
unappeasable. Yet for something far greater than 
the wilderness alone — the wilderness was merely a 
symbol, a first step, indication of a way of escape. 
The hurry and invention of modern life were to him 
a fever and a torment. He loathed the million 
tricks of civilization. At the same time, being a 
man of some discrimination at least, he rarely let him- 
self go completely. Of these wilder, simpler instincts 
he was afraid. They might flood all else. If he 
yielded entirely, something he dreaded without being 
able to define, would happen ; the structure of his 
being would suffer a nameless violence, so that he 
would have to break with the world. These cravings 
stood for that loot of the soul which he must deny 
himself. Complete surrender would involve somehow 
a disintegration, a dissociation of his personality that 
carried with it the loss of personal identity. 

When the feeling of revolt became sometimes so 
urgent in him that it threatened to become un- 
manageable, he would go out into solitude, calling it 
to heel ; but this attempt to restore order, while 
easing his nature, was never radical ; the accumulation 
merely increased on the rebound ; the yearnings grew 
and multiplied, and the point of saturation was often 
dangerously near. 'Some day,' his friends would 
say, ' there'll be a bursting of the dam.' And, though 
their meaning might be variously interpreted, they 
spoke the truth. O'Malley knew it, too. 

A man he was, in a word, of deep and ever- 
shifting moods, and with more difficulty than most 
in recognizing the underlying self of which these 



II THE CENTAUR 7 

outer aspects were projections masquerading as 
complete personalities. 

The underlying ego that unified these projections 
was of the type touched with so sure a hand in the 
opening pages of an inspired little book : The Plea of 
Pan. O'Malley was useless as a citizen and knew it. 
Sometimes — he was ashamed of it as well. 

Occasionally, and at the time of this particular 
' memorable adventure,' aged thirty, he acted as 
foreign correspondent ; but even as such he was the 
kind of newspaper man that not merely collects 
news, but discovers, reveals, creates it. Wise in their 
generation, the editors who commissioned him 
remembered when his copy came in that they were 
editors. A roving commission among the tribes of 
the Caucasus was his assignment at the moment, and 
a better man for the purpose would have been hard 
to find, since he knew beauty, had a keen eye for 
human nature, divined what was vital and picturesque, 
and had, further, the power to set it down in brief 
terms born directly of his vivid emotions. 

When first I knew him he lived — nowhere, being 
always on the move. He kept, however, a dingy 
little room near Paddington where his books and 
papers accumulated, undusted but safe, and where the 
manuscripts of his adventures were found when his 
death made me the executor of his few belongings. 
The key was in his pocket, carefully ticketed with a 
bone label. And this, the only evidence of practical 
forethought I ever discovered in him, was proof that 
something in that room was deemed by him of value 
— to others. It certainly was not the heterogeneous 
collection of second-hand books, nor the hundreds of 
unlabelled photographs and sketches. Can it have 
been the MSS. of stories, notes, and episodes I found, 



8 THE CENTAUR ii 

almost carefully piled and tabulated, with titles in a 
dirty kitbag of green Willesden canvas ? 

Some of these he had told me (with a greater 
vividness than he could command by pen) ; others 
were new ; many unfinished. All were unusual, to 
say the least. All, too, had obviously happened to 
himself at some period of his roving career, though 
here and there he had disguised his own part in them 
by Hoffmann's device of throwing the action into the 
third person. Those told to me by word of mouth 
I could only feel were true, true for himself at least. 
In no sense were they mere inventions, but arose in 
moments of vision upon a structure of solid events. 
Ten men will describe in as many different ways a 
snake crossing their path ; but, besides these, there 
exists an eleventh man who sees more than the snake, 
the path, the movement. O'Malley was some such 
eleventh man. He saw the thing whole, from some 
kind of inner bird's-eye view, while the ten saw only 
limited aspects of it from various angles. He was 
accused of adding details, therefore, because he had 
divined their presence while still below the horizon. 
Before they emerged the others had already left. 

By which I mean that he saw in commonplace 
events the movement of greater tides than others saw. 
At one remove of time or distance — a minute or a 
mile — he perceived all. While the ten chattered 
volubly about the name of the snake, he was caught 
beyond by the beauty of the path, the glory of the 
running glide, the nature of the forces that drove, 
hindered, modified. 

The others reasoned where the snake was going, 
its length in inches and its speed per second, while 
he, ignoring such superficial details, plunged as it 
were into the very nature of the creature's being. 



II THE CENTAUR 9 

And in this idiosyncrasy, which he shared with all 
persons of mystical temperament, is exemplified a 
certain curious contempt for Reason that he had. 
For him mere intellectuality, by which the modern 
world sets such store, was a valley of dry bones. Its 
worship was a worship of the form. It missed the 
essential inner truth because such inner truth could 
be known only by being it, feeling it. The intellectual 
attitude of mind, in a word, was critical, not creative, 
and to be unimaginative seemed to him, therefore, the 
worst form of unintelligence. 

' The arid, sterile minds ! ' he would cry in a burst 
of his Celtic enthusiasm. ' Where, I ask ye, did the 
philosophies and sciences of the world assist the 
progress of any single soul a blessed inch .'* ' 

Any little Dreamer in his top-floor back, spinning 
by rushlight his web of beauty, was greater than the 
finest critical intelligence that ever lived. The one, 
for all his poor technique, was stammering over some- 
thing God had whispered to him, the other merely 
destroying thoughts invented by the brain of man. 

And this attitude of mind, because of its inter- 
pretative effect upon what follows, justifies mention. 
For to O'Malley, in some way difficult to explain, 
Reason and Intellect, as such, had come to be wor- 
shipped by men to-day out of all proportion to their 
real value. Consciousness, focussed too exclusively 
upon them, had exalted them out of due proportion 
in the spiritual economy. To make a god of them 
was to make an empty and inadequate god. Reason 
should be the guardian of the soul's advance, but not 
the object. Its function was that of a great sandpaper 
which should clear the way of excrescences, but its 
worship was to allow a detail to assume a dispro- 
portionate importance. 



lo THE CENTAUR ii 

Not that he was fool enough to despise Reason in 
what he called its proper place, but that he was ' wise' 
enough — not that he was ' intellectual ' enough ! — 
to recognize its futility in measuring the things of 
the soul. For him there existed a more fundamental 
understanding than Reason, and it was, apparently, 
an inner and natural understanding. 

' The greatest Teacher we ever had,' I once heard 
him say, * ignored the intellect, and who, will ye tell 
me, can by searching find out God ? And yet what 
else is worth finding out ? . . . Isn't it only by 
becoming as a little child — a child that feels and 
never reasons things — that any one shall enter the 
kingdom .? . . . Where will the giant intellects be 
before the Great White Throne when a simple man 
with the heart of a child will top the lot of 'em ? ' 

' Nature, I'm convinced,' he said another time, 
though he said it with puzzled eyes and a mind 
obviously groping, ' is our next step. Reason has 
done its best for centuries, and gets no further. It 
can get no further, for it can do nothing for the inner 
life which is the sole reality. We must return to 
Nature and a purified intuition, to a greater reliance 
upon what is now subconscious, back to that sweet, 
grave guidance of the Universe which we've discarded 
with the primitive state — a spiritual intelligence, really, 
divorced from mere intellectuality.' 

And by Nature he did not mean a return to 
savagery. There was no idea of going backwards in 
his wild words. Rather he looked forwards, in some 
way hard to understand, to a state when Man, with 
the best results of Reason in his pocket, might return 
to the instinctive life — to feeling wil/i — to the sinking 
down of the modern, exaggerated intellectual per- 
sonality into its rightful place as guide instead of 



II 



THE CENTAUR ii 



leader. He called it a Return to Nature, but what 
he meant, I always felt, was back to a sense of kinship 
with the Universe which men, through worshipping 
the intellect alone, had lost. Men to-day prided 
themselves upon their superiority to Nature as beings 
separate and apart. O'Malley sought, on the con- 
trary, a development, if not a revival, of some fault- 
less instinct, due to kinship with her, which — to 
take extremes — shall direct alike the animal and the 
inspired man, guiding the wild bee and the homing 
pigeon, and — the soul towards its God. 

This clue, as he called it, crystallized so neatly and 
so conclusively his own mental struggles, that he had 
called a halt, as it were, to his own intellectual 
development. . . . The name and family of the snake, 
hence, meant to him the least important things about 
it. He caught, wildly yet consistently, at the psychic 
links that bound the snake and Nature and himself 
together with all creation. Troops of adventurous 
thoughts had all his life ' gone west ' to colonize this 
land of speculative dream. True to his idea, he 
' thought ' with his emotions as much as with his 
brain, and in the broken record of the adventure that 
this book relates, this strange passion of his tempera- 
ment remains the vital clue. For it happened z», as 
well as to, himself. His Being could include the 
Earth by feeling with her, whereas his intellect could 
merely criticize, and so belittle, the details of such 
inclusion. 

Many a time, while he stretched credulity to a 
point, I have heard him apologize in some such way 
for his method. It was the splendour of his belief 
that made the thing so convincing in the telling, for 
later when I found the same tale written down it 
seemed somehow to have failed of an equal achieve- 



12 THE CENTAUR ii 

ment. The truth was that no one language would 
convey the extraordinary freight that was carried so 
easily by his instinctive choice of gestures, tone, and 
glance. With him these were consummately inter- 
pretative. 

Before the age of thirty he had written and 
published a volume or two of curious tales, all dealing 
with extensions of the personality, a subject that inter- 
ested him deeply, and one he understood because he 
drew the material largely from himself. Psychology 
he simply devoured, even in its most fantastic and 
speculative forms ; and though perhaps his vision was 
incalculably greater than his power of technique, these 
strange books had a certain value and formed a genuine 
contribution to the thought on that particular subject. 
In England naturally they fell dead, but their trans- 
lation into German brought him a wider and more 
intelligent circle. The common public unfamiliar 
with Sally Beauchamp No. 4, with H^l^ne Smith, or 
with Dr. Hanna, found in these studies of divided 
personality, and these singular extensions of the 
human consciousness, only extravagance and imagina- 
tion run to wildness. Yet, none the less, the 
substratum of truth upon which O'Malley had built 
them, lay actually within his own personal experience. 
The books had brought him here and there acquaint- 
ances of value ; and among these latter was a German 
doctor, Heinrich Stahl. With Dr. Stahl the Irish- 
man crossed swords through months of somewhat 
irregular correspondence, until at length the two had 
met on board a steamer where the German held 
the position of ship's doctor. The acquaintanceship 
had grown into something approaching friendship, 
although the two men stood apparently at the 



II THE CENTAUR 13 

opposite poles of thought. From time to time they 
still met. 

In appearance there was nothing unusual about 
O'Malley, unless it was the contrast of the light blue 
eyes with the dark hair. Never, I think, did I see 
him in anything but that old grey flannel suit, with 
the low collar and shabby glistening tie. He was of 
medium height, delicately built, his hands more like 
a girl's than a man's. In towns he shaved and 
looked fairly presentable, but once upon his travels 
he grew beard and moustache and would forget for 
weeks to have his hair cut, so that it fell in a tangle 
over forehead and eyes. 

His manner changed with the abruptness of his 
moods. Sometimes active and alert, at others for 
days together he would become absent, dreamy, 
absorbed, half oblivious of the outer world, his 
movements and actions dictated by subconscious 
instinct rather than regulated by volition. And one 
cause of that loneliness of spirit which was undoubtedly 
a chief pain in life to him, was the fact that ordinary 
folk were puzzled how to take him, or to know 
which of these many extreme moods was the man 
himself. Uncomfortable, unsatisfactory, elusive, not 
to be counted upon, they deemed him : and from 
their point of view they were undoubtedly right. 
The sympathy and above all the companionship he 
needed, genuinely craved too, were thus denied to 
him by the faults of his own temperament. With 
women his intercourse was of the slightest ; in a 
sense he did not know the need of them much. 
For one thing, the feminine element in his own 
nature was too strong, and he was not conscious, as 
most men are, of the great gap of incompleteness 
women may so exquisitely fill ; and, for another, its 



14 THE CENTAUR ii 

obvious corollary perhaps, when they did come into 
his life, they gave him more than he could comfort- 
ably deal vi'ith. They offered him more than he 
needed. 

In this way, while he perhaps had never fallen in 
love, as the saying has it, he had certainly known 
that high splendour of devotion which means the 
losing of oneself in others, that exalted love which 
seeks not any reward of possession because it is 
itself so utterly possessed. He was pure, too ; in 
the sense that it never occurred to him to be other- 
wise. 

Chief cause of his loneliness — so far as I could 
judge his complex personality at all — seemed that he 
never found a sympathetic, truly understanding ear 
for those deeply primitive longings that fairly 
ravaged his heart. And this very isolation made 
him often afraid ; it proved that the rest of the 
world, the sane majority at any rate, said No to 
them. I, who loved him and listened, yet never 
quite apprehended his full meaning. Far more than 
the common Call of the Wild, it was. He yearned, 
not so much for a world savage, uncivilized, as for a 
perfectly natural one that had never known, perhaps 
never needed civilization — a state of freedom in a life 
unstained. 

He never wholly understood, I think, the reason 
why he found himself in such stern protest against 
the modern state of things, why people produced in 
him a state of death so that he turned from men to 
Nature — to find life. The things the nations ex- 
clusively troubled themselves about all seemed to him 
so obviously vain and worthless, and, though he 
never even in his highest moments felt the claims of 
sainthood, it puzzled and perplexed him deeply that 



II THE CENTAUR 15 

the conquest over Nature in all its multifarious forms 
to-day should seem to them so infinitely more 
important than the conquest over self. What the 
world with common consent called Reality, seemed 
ever to him the most crude and obvious, the most 
transient, the most blatant un-Reality. His love of 
Nature was more than the mere joy of tumultuous 
pagan instincts. It was, in the kind of simple life he 
craved, the first step towards the recovery of noble, 
dignified, enfranchised living. In the denial of all 
this external flummery he hated, it would leave the 
soul disengaged and free, able to turn her activities 
within for spiritual development. Civilization now 
suffocated, smothered, killed the soul. Being in the 
hopeless minority, he felt he must be somewhere 
wrong, at fault, deceived. For all men, from a 
statesman to an engine-driver, agreed that the 
accumulation of external possessions had value, and 
that the importance of material gain was real. . . . 
Yet, for himself, he always turned for comfort to the 
Earth. The wise and wonderful Earth opened her 
mind and her deep heart to him in a way few other 
men seemed to know. Through Nature he could 
move blind-folded along, yet find his way to strength 
and sympathy. A noble, gracious life stirred in him 
then which the pettier human world denied. He 
often would compare the thin help or fellowship he 
gained from ordinary social intercourse, or from what 
had seemed at the time quite a successful gathering 
of his kind, with the power he gained from a visit to 
the woods or mountains. The former, as a rule, 
evaporated in a single day ; the other stayed, with 
ever growing power, to bless whole weeks and 
months. 

And hence it was, whether owing to the truth or 



1 6 THE CENTAUR ii 

ignorance of his attitude, that a sense of bleak loneli- 
ness spread through all his life, and more and more 
he turned from men to Nature. 

Moreover, foolish as it must sound, I was some- 
times aware that deep down in him hid some name- 
less, indefinable quality that proclaimed him fitted to 
live in conditions that had never known the restraints 
of modern conventions — a very different thing to 
doing without them once known. A kind of child- 
like, transcendental innocence he certainly possessed, 
na'if^ most engaging, and — utterly impossible. It 
showed itself indirectly, 1 think, in this distress under 
modern conditions. The multifarious apparatus of 
the spirit of To-day oppressed him ; its rush and 
luxury and artificiality harassed him beyond belief. 
The terror of cities ran in his very blood. 

When I describe him as something of an outcast, 
therefore, it will be seen that he was such both 
voluntarily and involuntarily. 

* What the world has gained by brains is simply 
nothing to what it has lost by them ' 

* A dream, my dear fellow, a mere dream,' I 
stopped him, yet with sympathy because I knew he 
found relief this way. ' Your constructive imagina- 
tion is too active.' 

'By Gad,' he replied warmly, *but there is a 
place somewhere, or a state of mind — the same 
thing — where it's more than a dream. And, what's 
more, bless your stodgy old heart, some day I'll get 
there.' 

' Not in England, at any rate,' I suggested. 

He stared at me a moment, his eyes suddenly 
charged with dreams. Then, characteristically, he 
snorted. He flung his hand out with a gesture that 
should push the present further from him. 



ir THE CENTAUR 



17 



' I've always liked the Eastern theory — old theory 
anyhow if not Eastern — that intense yearnings end 
by creating a place where they are fulfilled ' 

' Subjectively ' 

* Of course ; objectively means incompletely. I 
mean a Heaven built up by desire and intense long- 
ing all your life. Your own thought makes it. 
Living idea, that ! ' 

'Another dream, Terence O'Malley,' I laughed, 
' but beautiful and seductive.' 

To argue bored him. He loved to state his 
matter, fill it with detail, blow the heated breath of 
life into it, and then leave it. Argument belittled 
without clarifying ; criticism destroyed, sealing up 
the sources of life. Any fool could argue ; the small, 
denying minds were always critics. 

' A dream, but a damned foine one, let me tell 
you,' he exclaimed, recovering his brogue in his 
enthusiasm. He glared at me a second, then burst 
out laughing. * 'Tis better to have dhreamed and 
waked,' he added, ' than never to have dhreamed 
at all.' 

And then he poured out O'Shaughnessy's 
passionate ode to the Dreamers of the world : 

We are the music-makers, 
And we are the dreamers of dreams, 
Wandering by lone sea-breakers, 
And sitting by desolate streams ; 
World-losers and world-forsakers, 
On whom the pale moon gleams ; 
Yet we are the movers and shakers 
Of the world for ever, it seems. 

With wonderful deathless ditties 
We build up the world's great cities, 
And out of a fabulous story 
We fashion an empire's glory ; 



1 8 THE CENTAUR ii 

One man with a dream, at pleasure, 
Shall go forth and conquer a crown ; 
And three with a new song's measure 
Can trample an empire down. 

We, in the ages lying 
In the buried past of the earth, 
Built Nineveh with our sighing. 
And Babel itself with our mirth ; 
And o'erthrew them with prophesying 
To the old of the new world's worth ; 
For each age is a dream that is djing, 
Or one that is coming to birth. 

For this passion for some simple old-world 
innocence and beauty lay in his soul like a lust — self- 
feeding and voracious. 



Ill 

' Lonely ! Why should I feel lonely ? Is not our planet in the 
Milky Way ? ' — Thoreau. 

March had passed shouting away, and April was 
whispering deliciously among her scented showers 
when O'Malley went on board the coasting steamer 
at Marseilles for the Levant and the Black Sea. The 
mistral made the land unbearable, but herds of white 
horses ran galloping over the bay beneath a sky of 
childhood's blue. The ship started punctually — he 
came on board as usual with a bare minute's margin 
— and from his rapid survey of the thronged upper 
deck, it seems, he singled out on the instant this 
man and boy, wondering first vaguely at their 
uncommon air of bulk, secondly at the absence of 
detail which should confirm it. They appeared so 
much bigger than they actually were. The laughter, 
rising in his heart, however, did not get as far as his 
lips. 

For this appearance of massive bulk, and of 
shoulders comely yet almost humped, was not 
borne out by a direct inspection. It was a mental 
impression. The man, though broad and well-pro- 
portioned, with heavy back and neck and uncom- 
monly sturdy torso, was in no sense monstrous. It 
was upon the corner of the eye that the bulk and 
hugeness dawned, a false report that melted under 

19 



20 THE CENTAUR iii 

direct vision. O'Malley took him in with attention 
merging in respect, searching in vain for the detail 
of back and limbs and neck that suggested so 
curiously the sense of the gigantic. The boy beside 
him, obviously son, possessed the same elusive attri- 
butes — felt yet never positively seen. 

Passing down to his cabin, wondering vaguely to 
what nationality they might belong, he was immedi- 
ately behind them, elbowing French and German 
tourists, when the father abruptly turned and faced 
him. Their gaze met. O'Malley started. 

* Whew . . . ! ' ran some silent expression like 
fire through his brain. 

Out of a massive visage, placid for all its rugged- 
ness, shone eyes large and timid as those of an 
animal or child bewildered among so many people. 
There was an expression in them not so much cowed 
or dismayed as 'un-refuged' — the eyes of the hunted 
creature. That, at least, was the first thing they 
betrayed ; for the same second the quick-blooded 
Celt caught another look : the look of a hunted 
creature that at last knows shelter and has found it. 
The first expression had emerged, then withdrawn 
again swiftly like an animal into its hole where safety 
lay. Before disappearing, it had flashed a wireless 
message of warning, of welcome, of explanation — he 
knew not what term to use — to another of its own 
kind, to himself. 

O'Malley, utterly arrested, stood and stared. He 
would have spoken, for the invitation seemed obvious 
enough, but there came an odd catch in his breath, 
and words failed altogether. The boy, peering at 
him sideways, clung to his great parent's side. For 
perhaps ten seconds there was this interchange of 
staring, intimate staring, between the three of them 



Ill 



THE CENTAUR 21 



. . . and then the Irishman, confused, more than a 
little agitated, ended the silent introduction with an 
imperceptible bow and passed on slowly, knocking 
absent-mindedly through the crowd, down to his 
cabin on the lower deck. 

In his heart, deep down, stirred an indescribable 
sympathy with something he divined in these two 
that was akin to himself, but that as yet he could 
not name. On the surface he felt an emotion he 
knew not whether to call uneasiness or surprise, but 
crowding past it, half smothering it, rose this other 
more profound emotion. Something enormously 
winning in the atmosphere of father and son called 
to him in the silence : it was significant, oddly 
buried ; not yet had it emerged enough to be con- 
fessed and labelled. But each had recognized it in 
the other. Each knew. Each waited. And it was 
extraordinarily disturbing. 

Before unpacking, he sat for a long time on his 
berth, thinking . . . trying in vain to catch through 
a thunder of surprising emotions the word that 
might bring explanation. That strange impression 
of giant bulk, unsupported by actual measurements ; 
that look of startled security seeking shelter ; that 
other look of being sure, of knowing where to go 
and being actually en route, — all these, he felt, grew 
from the same hidden cause whereof they were 
symptoms. It was this hidden thing in the man 
that had reached out invisibly and fired his own 
consciousness as their gaze met in that brief instant. 
And it had disturbed him so profoundly because the 
very same lost thing lay buried in himself. The 
man knew, whereas he anticipated merely — as yet. 
What was it .? Why came there with it both happi- 
ness and fear ? 



22 THE CENTAUR m 

The word that kept chasing itself in a circle like 
a kitten after its own tail, yet bringing no explana- 
tion, was Loneliness — a loneliness that must be 
whispered. For it was loneliness on the verge of 
finding relief And if proclaimed too loud, there 
might come those who would interfere and prevent 
relief. The man, and the boy too for that matter, 
were escaping. They had found the way back, 
were ready and eager, moreover, to show it to other 
prisoners. 

And this was as near as O'M alley could come to 
explanation. He began to understand dimly — and 
with an extraordinary excitement of happiness. 

* Well — and the bigness ? ' I asked, seizing on a 
practical point after listening to his dreaming, ' what 
do you make of that ? It must have had some 
definite cause surely ? ' 

He turned and fixed his light blue eyes on mine 
as we paced beside the Serpentine that summer 
afternoon when I first heard the story told. He 
was half grave, half laughing. 

' The size, the bulk, the bigness,' he replied, 
' must have been in reality the expression of some 
mental quality that reached me psychically, producing 
its effect directly on my mind and not upon the eyes 
at all.' In telling the story he used a simile omitted 
in the writing of it, because his sense of humour 
perceived that no possible turn of phrase could save 
it from grotcsqueness when actually it was far from 
grotesque — extraordinarily pathetic rather^ : * As 
though,' he said, ' the great back and shoulders 
carried beneath the loose black cape — humps, pro- 
jections at least ; but projections not ugly in them- 
selves, comely even in some perfectly natural way, 
that lent to his person this idea of giant size. His 



Ill THE CENTAUR 23 

body, though large, was normal so far as its propor- 
tions were concerned. In his spirit, though, there 
hid another shape. An aspect of that other shape 
somehow reached my mind.' 

Then, seeing that I found nothing at the moment 
to reply, he added : 

' As an angry man you may picture to yourself as 
red, or a jealous man as green ! ' He laughed aloud. 
' D'ye see, now ? It was not really a physical 
business at all ! ' 



IV 

' We think with only a small part of the past, but it is with our 
entire past, including the original bent of our soul, that we desire, will, 
and act.' — Henri Bergson. 

The balance of his fellow-passengers were not dis- 
tinguished. There was a company of French tourists 
going to Naples, and another lot of Germans bound 
for Athens, some business folk for Smyrna and 
Constantinople, and a sprinkling of Russians going 
home via Odessa, Batoum, or Npvorossisk. 

In his own state-room, occupying the upper 
berth, was a little round-bodied, red-faced Canadian 
drummer, 'travelling' in harvest-machines. The name 
of the machine, its price, and the terms of purchase 
were his universe ; he knew them in several languages ; 
beyond them, nothing. He was good-natured, con- 
ceding anything to save trouble. ' D'ye mind the 
light for a bit while I read in bed } ' asked O'Malley. 
' Don't mind anything much,' was the cheery reply. 
* I'm not particular ; I'm easy-going and you needn't 
bother.' He turned over to sleep. ' Old traveller,' 
he added, his voice muffled by sheets and blankets, 
' and take things as they come.' And the only 
objection O'Malley found in hin was that he took 
things as they came to the point of not taking baths 
at all, and not even taking all his garments off when 
he went to bed. 

24 



I 



IV THE CENTAUR 25 

The Captain, whom he knew from previous 
voyages, a genial, rough-voiced sailor from Sassnitz, 
chided him for so nearly missing the boat — ' as usual.' 

' You're too late for a seat at my taple,' he said 
with his laughing growl ; 'it's a pidy. You should 
have led me know py telegram, and I then kepd your 
place. Now you find room at the doctor's table 
howefer berhaps . . . ! ' 

' Steamer's very crowded this time,' O'Malley 
replied, shrugging his shoulders ; ' but you'll let me 
come up sometimes for a smoke with you on the 
bridge ^ ' 

' Of course, of course.' 

' Anybody interesting on board .'' * he asked after a 
moment's pause. 

The jolly Captain laughed. ' 'Pout the zame as 
usual, you know. Nothing to stop ze ship ! Ask 
the doctor ; he knows zooner than me. But, any- 
way, the nice ones, they get zeazick always and 
dizappear. Going Trebizond this time ? ' he added. 

' No ; Batoum.' 

* Ach ! Oil ? ' 

' Caucasus generally — up in the mountains a bit.' 

' God blenty veapons then, I hope. They shoot 
you for two pfennig up there ! ' And he was oflF 
with his hearty deep laugh and rather ponderous 
briskness towards the bridge. 

Thus O'Malley found himself placed for meals at 
the right hand of Dr. Stahl ; opposite him, on the 
doctor's left, a talkative Moscow fur-merchant who, 
having come to definite conclusions of his own about 
things in general, was persuaded the rest of the 
world must share them, and who delivered verbose 
commonplaces with a kind of pontifical utterance 
sometimes amusing, but usually boring ; on his right 



26 THE CENTAUR iv 

a gentle-eyed, brown-bearded Armenian priest from 
the Venice monastery that had sheltered Byron, a 
man who ate everything except soup with his knife, 
yet with a daintiness that made one marvel, and with 
hands so graceful they might almost have replaced 
the knife without offence. Beyond the priest sat 
the rotund Canadian drummer. He kept silence, 
watched the dishes carefully lest anything should 
escape him, and — ate. Lower down on the opposite 
s*ide, one or two nondescripts between, sat the big, 
blond, bearded stranger with his son. Diagonally 
across from himself and the doctor, they were in full 
view. 

O'Malley talked to all and sundry whom his 
voice could reach, being easily forthcoming to people 
whom he was not likely to see again. But he was 
particularly pleased to find himself next to the ship's 
doctor. Dr. Heinrich Stahl, for the man both attracted 
and antagonized him, and they had crossed swords 
pleasantly on more voyages than one. There was 
a fundamental contradiction in his character due — 
O'Malley divined — to the fact that his experiences 
did not tally as he wished them to do with his 
beliefs, or vice versa. Affecting to believe in nothing, 
he occasionally dropped remarks that betrayed a 
belief in all kinds of things, unorthodox things. 
Then, having led the Irishman into confessions of his 
own fairy faith, he would abruptly rule the whole 
subject out of order with some cynical phrase that 
closed discussion. In this sarcastic attitude O'Malley 
detected a pose assumed for his own protection. 
* No man of sense can possibly accept such a thing ; 
it is incredible and foolish.' Yet, the biting way he 
said the words betrayed him ; the very thing his 
reason rejected, his soul believed. . . . 



IV THE CENTAUR 27 

These vivid impressions the Irishman had of 
people, one wonders how accurate they were ! In 
this case, perhaps, he was not far from the truth. 
That a man with Dr. Stahl's knowledge and ability 
could be content to hide his light under the bushel of 
a mere schiffsartzt required explanation. His own 
explanation was that he wanted leisure for thinking 
and writing. Bald-headed, slovenly, prematurely 
old, his beard stained with tobacco and snufF, under- 
sized, scientific in the imaginative sense that made 
him speculative beyond mere formulae, his was an 
individuality that inspired a respect one could never 
quite account for. He had keen dark eyes that 
twinkled, sometimes mockingly, sometimes, if the 
word may be allowed, bitterly, yet often too with 
a good-humoured amusement which sympathy with 
human weaknesses could alone have caused. A 
warm heart he certainly had, as more than one forlorn 
passenger could testify. 

Conversation at their table was slow at first. It 
began at the lower end where the French tourists 
chattered briskly over the soup, then crept upwards 
like a slow fire o'erleaping various individuals who 
would not catch. For instance, it passed the 
harvest-machine man ; it passed the nondescripts ; 
it also passed the big light-haired stranger and his 
son. 

At the table behind, there was a steady roar and 
buzz of voices ; the Captain was easy and genial, 
prophesying to the ladies on either side of him a 
calm voyage. In the shelter of his big voice even 
the shy found it easy to make remarks to their 
neighbours. Listening to fragments of the talk 
O'Mallcy found that his own eyes kept wandering 
down the table — diagonally across — to the two 



2 8 THE CENTAUR iv 

strangers. Once or twice he intercepted the doctor's 
glance travelling in the same direction, and on these 
occasions it was on the tip of his tongue to make 
a remark about them, or to ask a question. Yet the 
words did not come. Dr. Stahl, he felt, knew a 
similar hesitation. Each, wanting to speak, yet kept 
silence, waiting for the other to break the ice. 

' This mistral is tiresome,' observed the doctor, as 
the tide of talk flowed up to his end and made a 
remark necessary. ' It tries the nerves of some.' 
He glanced at O'Malley, but it was the fur-merchant 
who replied, spreading a be-ringed hand over his 
plate to feel the warmth. 

' I know it well,' he said pompously in a tone 
of finality ; ' it lasts three, six, or nine days. But 
once across the Golfe de Lyons we shall be free of it.' 

* You think so } Ah, I am glad,' ventured the 
priest with a timid smile while he adroitly balanced 
meat and bullet-like green peas upon his knife-blade. 
Tone, smile, and gesture were so gentle that the use 
of steel in any form seemed incongruous. 

The voice of the fur - merchant came in 
domineeringly. 

' Of course. I have made this trip so often, / 
know. St. Petersburg to Paris, a few weeks on the 
Riviera, then back by Constantinople and the Crimea. 

It is nothing. I remember last year ' He pushed 

a large pearl pin more deeply into his speckled tie 
and began a story that proved chiefly how luxuriously 
he travelled. His eyes tried to draw the whole end 
of the table into his circle, but while the Armenian 
listened politely, with smiles and bows, Dr. Stahl 
turned to the Irishman again. It was the year of 
Halley's comet and he began talking interestingly 
about it. 



IV THE CENTAUR 29 

* . . . Three o'clock in the morning — any morn- 
ing, yes — is the best time,' the doctor concluded, 
' and I'll have you called. You must see it through 
my telescope. End of this week, say, after we leave 
Catania and turn eastwards . . .' 

And at this instant, following a roar of laughter 
from the Captain's table, came one of those abrupt 
pauses that sometimes catch an entire room at once. 
All voices hushed. Even the merchant, setting down 
his champagne glass, fell silent. One heard only the 
beating of the steamer's screw, the rush of water 
below the port-holes, the soft scuffle of the stewards* 
feet. The conclusion of the doctor's inconsiderable 
sentence was sharply audible all over the room — 

* . . . crossing the Ionian Sea towards the Isles of 
Greece.' 

It rang across the pause, and at the same moment 
O'Malley caught the eyes of the big stranger lifted 
suddenly and fixed upon the speaker's face as though 
the words had summoned him. 

They shifted the same instant to his own, then 
dropped again to his plate. Again the clatter ot 
conversation drowned the room as before ; the 
merchant resumed his self-description in terms of 
gold ; the doctor discussed the gases of the comet's 
tail. But the swift-blooded Irishman felt himself 
caught away strangely and suddenly into another 
world. Out of the abyss of the subconscious there 
rose a gesture prophetic and immense. The trivial 
phrase and that intercepted look opened a great door 
of wonder in his heart. In a second he grew 'absent- 
minded.' Or, rather, something touched a button 
and the whole machinery of his personality shifted 
round noiselessly and instantaneously, presenting an 
immediate new facet to the world. His normal, 



30 THE CENTAUR iv 

puny self-consciousness slipped a moment into the 
majestic calm of some far larger state that the 
stranger also knew. The Universe lies in every 
human heart, and he plunged into that archetypal world 
that stands so close behind all sensible appearances. 
He could neither explain nor attempt to explain, but 
he sailed away into some giant swimming mood of 
beauty wherein steamer, passengers, talk, faded 
utterly, the stranger and his son remaining alone real 
and vital. He had seen ; he could never forget. 
Chance prepared the setting, but immense powers had 
rushed in and availed themselves of it. Something 
deeply buried had flamed from the stranger's eyes 
and beckoned to him. The fire ran from the big 
man to himself and was gone. 

»' The Isles of Greece ' The words were 

simple enough, yet it seemed to O'Malley that the 
look they summoned to the stranger's eyes ensouled 
them, transfiguring them with the significance of 
vital clues. They touched the fringe of a mystery, 
magnificent and remote — some transcendent psychical 
drama in the life of this man whose ' bigness ' and 
whose ' loneliness that must be whispered ' were also 
in their way other vital clues. Moreover, remember- 
ing his first sight of these two upon the upper deck a 
few hours before, he understood that his own spirit, 
by virtue of its peculiar and primitive yearnings, was 
involved in the same mystery and included in the 
same hidden passion. 

The little incident illustrates admirably O'Malley 's 
idiosyncrasy of ' seeing whole.' In a lightning flash 
his inner sense had associated the words and the 
glance, divining that the one had caused the other. 
That pause provided the opportunity. ... If 
Imagination, then it was creative imagination ; if 



IV THE CENTAUR 31 

true, it was assuredly spiritual insight of a rare 
quality. 

He became aware that the twinkling eyes of his 
neighbour were observing him keenly. For some 
moments evidently he had been absent-mindedly 
staring down the table. He turned quickly and 
looked at the doctor with frankness. This time it 
was impossible to avoid speech of some kind. 

' Following those lights that do mislead the 
morn ? ' asked Dr. Stahl slyly. ' Your thoughts 
have been travelling. You've heard none of my 
last remarks ! ' 

Under the clamour of the merchant's voice 
O'Malley replied in a lowered tone : 

* I was watching those two half-way down the 
table opposite. They interest you as well, I see.' 
It was not a challenge exactly ; if the tone was 
aggressive, it was merely that he felt the subject 
was one on which they would differ, and he scented 
an approaching discussion. The doctor's reply, 
indicating agreement, surprised him a good deal. 

' They do ; they interest me greatly.' There 
was no trace of fight in the voice. ' That should 
cause you no surprise.' 

* Me — they simply fascinate,' said O'Malley, 
always easily drawn. ' What is it ? What do you 
see about them that is unusual ? You, too, see 
them " big " ? The doctor did not answer at once, 
and O'Malley added, * The father's a tremendous 
fellow, but it's not that ' 

' Partly, though,' said the other, ' partly, I think.' 
' What else, then .? ' The fur - merchant, still 

talking, prevented their being overheard. ' What 

is it marks them off so from the rest ? ' 

* Of all people you should see,* smiled the doctor 



32 THE CENTAUR iv 

quietly. * If a man of your imagination sees nothing, 
what shall a poor exact mind like myself see ? ' He 
eyed him keenly a moment. * You really mean 
that you detect nothing ? ' 

* A certain distinction, yes ; a certain aloofness 
from others. Isolated, they seem in a way ; rather 
a splendid isolation I should call it ' 

And then he stopped abruptly. It was most 
curious, but he was aware that unwittingly in this 
way he had stumbled upon the truth, aware at the 
same time that he resented discussing it with his 
companion — because it meant at the same time dis- 
cussing himself or something in himself he wished to 
hide. His entire mood shifted again with complete- 
ness and rapidity. He could not help it. It 
seemed suddenly as though he had been telling the 
doctor secrets about himself, secrets moreover he 
would not treat sympathetically. The doctor had 
been ' at him,' so to speak, searching the depths of 
him with a probing acuteness the casual language 
had disguised. 

* What are they, do you suppose, Finns, Russians, 
Norwegians, or what } ' the doctor asked. And the 
other replied briefly that he guessed they might be 
Russians perhaps, South Russians. His tone was 
different. He wished to avoid further discussion. 
At the first opportunity he neatly changed the 
conversation. 

It was curious, the way proof came to him. 
Something in himself, wild as the desert, something 
to do with that love of primitive life he discussed 
only with the few who were intimately sympathetic 
towards it, this something in his soul was so akin 
to a similar passion in these strangers that to talk 
of it was to betray himself as well as them. 



IV THE CENTAUR 33 

Further, he resented Dr. Stahl's interest in them, 
because he felt it was critical and scientific. Not far 
behind hid the analysis that would lay them bare, 
leading to their destruction. A profound instinctive 
sense of self-preservation had been stirred within him. 

Already, mysteriously guided by secret affinities, 
he had ranged himself on the side of the strangers. 



' Mythology contains the history of the archetypal world. It 
comprehends Past, Present, and Future.' — Novalis, Flo'vcer Pollen. 
Translated by U. C. B. 

In this way there came between these two the slight 
barrier of a forbidden subject that grew because 
neither destroyed it. O'Malley had erected it ; 
Dr. Stahl respected it. Neither referred again for a 
time to the big Russian and his son. 

In his written account O'Malley, who was 
certainly no constructive literary craftsman, left out 
apparently countless little confirmatory details. By 
word of mouth he made me feel at once that this 
mystery existed, however ; and to weld the two 
together is a difficult task. There nevertheless was 
this something about the Russian and his boy that 
excited deep curiosity, accompanied by an aversion 
on the part of the other passengers that isolated 
them ; also, there was this competition on the part 
of the two friends to solve it, from opposing 
motives. 

Had either of the strangers fallen seasick, the 
advantage would have been easily with Dr. Stahl — 
professionally ; but since they remained well, and 
the doctor was in constant demand by the other 
passengers, it was the Irishman who won the first 
move and came to close quarters by making a 

34 



I 



V THE CENTAUR 35 

personal acquaintance. His strong desire helped 
matters of course ; for he noticed with indignation 
that these two, quiet and inoffensive as they were 
and with no salient cause of offence, were yet 
rejected by the main body of passengers. They 
seemed to possess a quality that somehow insulated 
them from approach, sending them effectually ' to 
Coventry,' and in a small steamer where the 
travellers settle down into a kind of big family life, 
this isolation was unpleasantly noticeable. 

It stood out in numerous little details that only a 
keen observer closely watching could have taken 
into account. Small advances, travellers' courtesies, 
and the like that ordinarily should have led to 
conversation, in their case led to nothing. The 
other passengers invariably moved away after a few 
moments, politely excusing themselves, as it were, 
from further intercourse. And although at first the 
sight of this stirred in him an instinct of revolt that 
was almost anger, he soon felt that the couple not 
merely failed to invite, but even emanated some 
definite atmosphere that repelled. And each time he 
witnessed these little scenes, there grew more strongly 
in him the original picture he had formed of them 
as beings rejected and alone, hunted by humanity as 
a whole, seeking escape from loneliness into a place 
of refuge that they knew of, definitely at last en 
route. 

Only an imaginative mind, thus concentrated 
upon them, could have divined all this ; yet to 
O'Malley it seemed plain as the day. With the 
certitude, moreover, came the feeling, ever stronger, 
that the refuge they sought would prove to be also 
the refuge he himself sought, the difference being 
that whereas they knew, he still hesitated. 



36 THE CENTAUR v 

Yet, in spite of this secret sympathy, imagined 
or discovered, he found it no easy matter to 
approach the big man for speech. For a day and a 
half he merely watched ; attraction so strong excited 
caution ; he paused, waiting. His attention, how- 
ever, was so keen that he seemed always to know 
where they were and what they were doing. By 
instinct he was aware in what part of the ship they 
would be found — for the most part leaning over the 
rail alone in the bows, staring down at the churned 
water together by the screws, pacing the after-deck 
in the dusk or early morning when no one was 
about, or hidden away in some corner of the upper 
deck, side by side, gazing at sea and sky. Their 
method of walking, too, made it easy to single them 
out from the rest — a free, swaying movement of the 
limbs, a swing of the shoulders, a gait that was 
lumbering, almost clumsy, half defiant, yet at the 
same time graceful, and curiously rapid. The body 
moved along swiftly for all its air of blundering — a 
motion which was a counterpart of that elusive 
appearance of great bulk, and equally difficult of 
exact determination. An air went with them of 
being ridiculously confined by the narrow little decks. 

Thus it was that Genoa had been made and the 
ship was already half way on to Naples before the 
opportunity for closer acquaintance presented itself. 
Rather, O'Malley, unable longer to resist, forced it. 
It seemed, too, inevitable as sunrise. 

Rain had followed the mistral and the sea was 
rough. A rich land-taste came about the ship like 
the smell of wet oaks when wind sweeps their leaves 
after a sousing shower. In the hour before dinner, 
the decks slippery with moisture, only one or two 
wrapped -up passengers in deck-chairs below the 



V THE CENTAUR 37 

awning, O'Malley, following a sure inner lead, came 
out of the stuffy smoking-room into the air. It was 
already dark and the drive of mist-like rain some- 
what obscured his vision after the glare. Only for a 
moment though — for almost the first thing he saw 
was the Russian and his boy moving in front of him 
towards the aft compasses. Like a single figure, 
huge and shadowy, they passed into the darkness 
beyond with a speed that seemed as usual out of 
proportion to their actual stride. They lumbered 
rapidly away. O'Malley caught that final swing of 
the man's great shoulders as they disappeared, and, 
leaving the covered deck, he made straight after 
them. And though neither gave any sign that they 
had seen him, he felt that they were aware of his 
coming — and even invited him. 

As he drew close a roll of the vessel brought 
them almost into each other's arms, and the boy, 
half hidden beneath his parent's flowing cloak, looked 
up at once and smiled. The saloon light fell dimly 
upon his face. The Irishman saw that friendly smile 
of welcome, and lurched forward with the roll of the 
deck. They brought up against the bulwarks, and 
the big "man put out an arm to steady him. They 
all three laughed together. At close quarters, as 
usual again, the impression of bulk had disappeared. 

And then, at first, utterly unlike real life, they 
said — nothing. The boy moved round and stood 
close to his side so that he found himself placed 
between them, all three leaning forward over the 
rails watching the phosphorescence of the foam- 
streaked Mediterranean. 

Dusk lay over the sea ; the shores of Italy not 
near enough to be visible ; the mist, the hour, the 
loneliness of the deserted decks, and something else 



38 THE CENTAUR v 

that was nameless, shut them in, these three, in a 
little world of their own. A sentence or two rose 
in O'Malley's mind, but without finding utterance, 
for he felt that no spoken words were necessary. 
He was accepted without more ado. A deep 
natural sympathy existed between them, recognized 
intuitively from that moment of first mutual inspec- 
tion at Marseilles. It was instinctive, almost as with 
animals. The action of the boy in coming round to 
his side, unhindered by the father, was the symbol of 
utter confidence and welcome. 

There came, then, one of those splendid and 
significant moments that occasionally, for some, 
burst into life, flooding all barriers, breaking down 
as with a flaming light the thousand erections of 
shadow that close one in. Something imprisoned in 
himself swept outwards, rising like a wave, bringing 
an expansion of life that ' explained.' It vanished, 
of course, instantly again, but not before he had 
caught a flying remnant that lit the broken puzzles 
of his heart and left things clearer. Before thought, 
and therefore words, could overtake, it was gone ; 
but there remained at least this glimpse. The fire 
had flashed a light down subterranean passages of his 
being and made visible for a passing second some 
clue to his buried primitive yearnings. He partly 
understood. 

Standing there between these two this thing came 
over him with a degree of intelligibility scarcely 
captured by his words. The man's qualities — his 
quietness, peace, slowness, silence — betrayed some- 
how that his inner life dwelt in a region vast and 
simple, shaping even his exterior presentment with its 
own huge characteristics, a region wherein the distress 
of the modern world's vulgar, futile strife could not 



V THE CENTAUR 39 

exist — more, could never have existed. The Irish- 
man, who had never realized exactly why the life of 
To-day to him was dreadful, now understood it in 
the presence of this simple being with his atmosphere 
of stately power. He was like a child, but a child 
of some pre-existence utterly primitive and utterly 
forgotten ; of no particular age, but of some state 
that ante-dates all ages ; simple in some noble, con- 
centrated sense that was prodigious, almost terrific. 
To stand thus beside him was to stand beside a 
mighty silent fire, steadily glowing, a fire that fed all 
lesser flames, because itself close to the central source 
of fire. He felt warmed, lighted, vivified — made 
whole. The presence of this stranger took him at 
a single gulp, as it were, straight into Nature — a 
Nature that was alive. The man was part of her. 
Never before had he stood so close and intimate. 
Cities and civilization fled away like transient 
dreams, ashamed. The sun and moon and stars 
moved up and touched him. 

This word of lightning explanation, at least, came 
to him as he breathed the other's atmosphere and 
presence. The region where this man's spirit fed was 
at the centre, whereas to-day men were active with 
a scattered, superficial cleverness, at the periphery. 
He even understood that his giant gait and move- 
ments were small outer evidences of this inner fact, 
wholly in keeping. That blundering stupidity, half 
glorious, half pathetic, with which he moved among 
his fellows was a physical expression of this psychic 
fact that his spirit had never learned the skilful 
tricks taught by civilization to lesser men. It was, 
in a way, awe-inspiring, for he was now at last 
driving back full speed for his own region and — 
escape. 



40 THE CENTAUR v 

O'Malley knew himself caught, swept off his feet, 
momentarily driving with him. . . . 

The singular deep satisfaction of it, standing 
there with these two in the first moment, he describes 
as an entirely new sensation in his life — an aware- 
ness that he was ' complete.' The boy touched his 
side and he let an arm steal round to shelter him. 
The huge, bearded parent rose in his massiveness 
against his other shoulder, hemming him in. For a 
second he knew a swift and curious alarm, passing 
however almost at once into the thrill of a rare 
happiness. In that moment, it was not the passengers 
or the temper of To-day who rejected them ; it was 
they who rejected the world : because they knew 
another and superior one — more, they were in it. 

Then, without turning, the big man spoke, the 
words in heavy accented English coming out labor- 
iously and with slow, exceeding difficulty as though 
utterance was a supreme effort. 

' You . . . come . . . with . . . us?' It was 
like stammering almost. Still more was it like 
essential inarticulateness struggling into an utterance 
foreign to it — unsuited. The voice was a deep and 
windy bass, merging with the noise of the sea below. 

* I'm going to the Caucasus,' O'Malley replied ; 
' up into the old, old mountains, to — see things — to 

look about — to search ' He really wanted to 

say much more, but the words lay dead or beyond 
reach. 

The big man nodded slowly. The boy listened. 

' And yourself — ? ' asked the Irishman, hardly 
knowing why he faltered and trembled. 

The other smiled ; a beauty that was beyond all 
language passed with that smile across the great face 
in the dusk. 



V THE CENTAUR 41 

*Some of us ... of ours . . .' he spoke very 
slowly, very brokenly, quarrying out the words with 
real labour, '. . . still survive . . . out there . . . 
We . . . now go back. So very . . . few . . . 
remain. . . . And you — come with us . . .' 



VI 

'In the spiritual Nature-Kingdom, man must everywhere seek his 
peculiar territory and climate, his best occupation, his particular 
neighbourhood, in order to cultivate a Paradise in idea ; this is the 
right system. . . . Paradise is scattered over the whole earth, and that 
is why it has become so unrecognizable.' — Novalis. Translated by 
U. C. B. 

' Man began in instinct and will end in instinct. Instinct is genius 
in Paradise, before the period of self-abstraction (self-knowledge).* — 
Ibid. 

• Look here, old man,' he said to me, ' I'll just 
tell you what it was, because I know you won't laugh.' 

We were lying under the big trees behind the 
Round Pond when he reached this point, and his 
direct speech was so much more graphic than the 
written account that I use it. He was in one of his 
rare moments of confidence, excited, hat off, his 
shabby tie escaping from the shabbier grey waistcoat. 
One sock lay untidily over his boot, showing bare leg. 

Children's voices floated to us from the water- 
side as though from very far away ; the nursemaids 
and perambulators seemed tinged with unreality, the 
London towers were clouds, its roar the roar of 
waves. I saw only the ship's deck, the grey and 
misty sea, the uncouth figures of the two who leaned 
with him over the bulwarks. 

' Go on,' I said encouragingly ; ' out with it ! ' 

' It must seem incredible to most men, but, by 
Gad, I swear to you, it lifted me ofi^ my feet, and 

42 



VI THE CENTAUR 43 

I've never known anything like it. The mind of 
that great fellow got hold of me, included me. He 
made the inanimate world — sea, stars, wind, woods, 
and mountains — seem all alive. The entire blessed 
universe was conscious — and he came straight out of 
it to get me. I understood things about myself I've 
never understood before — and always funked rather ; 
— especially that feeling of being out of touch with 
my kind, of finding no one in the world to-day who 
speaks my language quite — that, and the utter, God- 
forsaken loneliness it makes me suffer ' 

' You always have been a lonely beggar really,' I 
said, noting the hesitation that thus on the very 
threshold checked his enthusiasm, quenching the fire 
in those light-blue eyes. ' Tell me. I shall under- 
stand right enough — or try to.' 

' God bless you,' he answered, leaping to the 
sympathy, * I believe you will. There's always been 
this primitive, savage thing in me that keeps others 
away — puts them off, and so on. I've tried to 
smother it a bit sometimes * 

' Have you .'' ' I laughed. 

' " Tried to," I said, because I've always been 
afraid of its getting out too much and bustin' my life 
ail to pieces : — something lonely and untamed and 
sort of outcast from cities and money and all the 
thick suffocating civilization of to-day ; and I've only 
saved myself by getting off into wildernesses and free 
places where I could give it a breathin' chance with- 
out running the risk of being locked up as a crazy 
man.' He laughed as he said it, but his heart was 
in the words. ' You know all that ; haven't I told 
you often enough ^ It's not a morbid egoism, or 
what their precious academic books so stupidly call 
*' degenerate," fipr in me it's damned vital and terrific. 



44 THE CENTAUR vi 

and moves always to action. It's made me an alien 
and — and ' 

'Something far stronger than the Call of the 
Wild, isn't it?' 

He fairly snorted. ' Sure as we're both alive here 
sittin' on this sooty London grass,' he cried. ' This 
Call of the Wild they prate about is just the call a 
fellow hears to go on " the bust " when he's had too 
much town and's got bored — a call to a little bit of 
licence and excess to safety-valve him down. What 
I feel,' his voice turned grave and quiet again, ' is 
quite a different affair. It's the call of real hunger 
— the call of food. They want to let off" steam, but 
I want to take in stuffs to prevent — starvation.* He 
whispered the word, putting his lips close to my face. 

A pause fell between us, which I was the first to 
break. 

' This is not your century ! That's what you 
really mean,' I suggested patiently. 

' Not my centhury ! ' he caught me up, flinging 
handfuls of faded grass in the air between us and 
watching it fall ; ' why, it's not even my world ! And 
I loathe, loathe the spirit of to-day with its cheap- 
jack inventions, and smother of sham universal 
culture, its murderous superfluities and sordid 
vulgarity, without enough real sense of beauty left 
to see that a daisy is nearer heaven than an airship ' 

' Especially when the airship falls,' I laughed. 
' Steady, steady, old boy ; don't spoil your righteous 
case by overstatement.' 

' Well, well, you know what I mean,' he laughed 
with me, though his face at once turned earnest again, 
' and all that, and all that, and all that. . . . And so 
this savagery that has burned in me all these years 
unexplained, these Russian strangers made clear. I 



VI 



THE CENTAUR 45 



i 



can't tell you how because I don't know myself. 
The father did it — his proximity, his silence stuffed 
with sympathy, his great vital personality undipped 
by contact with these little folk who left him alone. 
His presence alone made me long for the earth and 
Nature. He seemed a living part of it all. He was 
magnificent and enormous, but the devil take me if 
I know how.' 

' He said nothing — that referred to it directly ? ' 

* Nothing but what I've told you, — blundering 
awkwardly with those few modern words. But he 
had it in him a thousand to my one. He made me 
feel I was right and natural, untrue to myself to 
suppress it and a coward to fear it. The speech- 
centre in the brain, you know, is anyhow a com- 
paratively recent thing in evolution. They say 
that ' 

• It wasn't his century either,' I checked him again. 
' No, and he didn't pretend it was, as I've tried 

to,' he cried, sitting bolt upright beside me. ' The 
fellow was genuine, never dreamed of compromise. 
D'ye see what I mean ? Only somehow he'd found 
out where his world and century were, and was off to 
take possession. And that's what caught me. I 
felt it by some instinct in me stronger than all else ; 
only we couldn't talk about it definitely because 
— because — I hardly know how to put it — for the 
same reason,' he added suddenly, ' that I can't talk 
about it to you now ! There are no words. . . . 
What we both sought was a state that passed away 
before words came into use, and is therefore beyond 
intelligible description. No one spoke to them on 
the ship for the same reason, I felt sure, that no one 
spoke to them in the whole world — because no one 
could manage even the alphabet of his language. 



46 THE CENTAUR vi 

* And this was so strange and beautiful,' he went 
on, * that standing there beside him, in his splendid 
atmosphere, the currents of wind and sea reached me 
through him firsts filtered by his spirit so that I 
assimilated them and they fed me, because he some- 
how stood in such close and direct relation to Nature. 
I slipped into my own region, made happy and alive, 
knowing at last what I wanted, though still unable 
to phrase it. This modern world I've so long tried 
to adjust myself to became a thing of pale remembrance 
and a dream. . . .' 

' All in your mind and imagination, of course, 
this,' I ventured, seeing that his poetry was luring 
him beyond where I could follow. 

' Of course,' he answered without impatience, 
grown suddenly thoughtful, less excited again, ' and 
that's why it was true. No chance of clumsy senses 
deceiving one. It was direct vision. What is 
Reality, in the last resort,' he asked, ' but the thing 
a man's vision brings to him — to believe 1 There's 
no other criterion. The criticism of opposite types of 
mind is merely a confession of their own limitations.' 

Being myself of the ' opposite type of mind,' I 
naturally did not argue, but suffered myself to 
accept his half-truth for the whole — temporarily. I 
checked him from time to time merely lest he should 
go too fast for me to follow what seemed a very 
wonderful tale of faery. 

' So this wild thing in me the world to-day has 
beggared and denied,' he went on, swept by his 
Celtic enthusiasm, ' woke in its full strength. Calling 
to me like some flying spirit in a storm, it claimed 
me. The man's being summoned me back to the 
earth and Nature, as it were, automatically. I under- 
stood -that look on his face, that sign in his eyes. 



I 



VI THE CENTAUR 47 

The " Isles of Greece " furnished some faint clue, but 
as yet I knew no more — only that he and 1 were in 
the same region and that I meant to go with him 
and that he accepted me with delight that was joy. 
It drew me as empty space draws a giddy man to 
the precipice's edge. Thoughts from another's jnind,* 
he added by way of explanation, turning round, 
' come far more completely to me when I stand in a 
man's atmosphere, silent and receptive, than when 
by speech he tries to place them there. Ah ! And 
that helps me to get at what I mean, perhaps. The 
man, you see, hardly thought ; he/^//.' 

* As an animal, you mean ? Instinctively — ? ' 

* In a sense, yes,' he replied after a momentary 
hesitation. ' Like some very early, very primitive 
form of life.' 

'With the best will in the world, Terence, I 
don't quite follow you ' 

' I don't quite follow meself,' he cried, ' because 
I'm trying to lead and follow at the same time. 
You know that idea — I came across it somewhere — 
that in ancient peoples the senses were much less 
specialized than they are now ; that perception came 
to them in general, massive sensations rather than 
divided up neatly into five channels : — that they felt 
a/l over so to speak, and that all the senses, as in an 
overdose of haschish, become one single sense ^ The 
centralizing of perception in the brain is a recent 
thing, and it might equally well have occurred in any 
other nervous head-quarters of the body, say, the 
solar plexus ; or, perhaps, never have been localized 
at all ! In hysteria patients have been known to 
read with the finger-tips and smell with the heel. 
Touch is still all over ; it's only the other four that 
have got fixed in definite organs. There are systems 



48 THE CENTAUR vi 

of thought to-day that still would make the solar 
plexus the main centre, and not the brain. The 
word " brain," you know, never once occurs in the 
ancient Scriptures of the world. You will not find 
it in the Bible — the reins, the heart, and so forth 
were what men felt with then. They felt all over 
— well,' he concluded abruptly, ' I think this fellow 
was like that. D'ye see now .'' ' 

I stared at him, greatly wondering. A nursemaid 
passed close, balancing a child in a spring-per- 
ambulator, saying in a foolish voice, ' Wupsey up, 
wupsey down ! Wupsey there ! ' O'Malley, in the 
full stream of his mood, waited impatiently till she 
had gone by. Then, rolling over on his side, he 
came closer, talking in a lowered tone. I think I 
never saw him so deeply stirred, nor understood, 
perhaps, so little of the extreme passion working in 
him. Yet it was incredible that he could have 
caught so much from mere interviews with a semi- 
articulate stranger, unless what he said was strictly 
true, and this Russian had positively touched latent 
fires in his soul by a kind of sympathetic magic. 

* You know,' he went on almost under his breath, 
' every man who thinks for himself and feels vividly 
finds he lives in a world of his own, apart, and 
believes that one day he'll come across, either in a 
book or in a person, the Priest who shall make it 
clear to him. Well — I'd found mine, that's all. I 
can't prove it to you with a pair of scales or a 
butcher's meat-axe, but it's true.' 

• And you mean his mere presence conveyed all 
this without speech almost ? ' 

' Because there was no speech possible,' he replied, 
dropping his voice to a whisper and thrusting his 
face yet closer into mine. ' We were solitary 



VI THE CENTAUR 49 

survivors of a world whose language was either 
uncreated or ' — he italicized the word — '-forgotten. . . .' 
'An elaborate and detailed thought-transference, 
then ? ' 

• Why not ? ' he murmured. ' It's one of the 
commonest facts of daily life.' 

' And you had never fully realized it before, this 
loneliness and its possible explanation — that there 
might exist, I mean, a way of satisfying it — till you 
met this stranger } ' 

He answered with deep earnestness. 'Always, 
old man, always, but suffered under it atrociously 
because I'd never understood it. I had been afraid 
to face it. This man, a far bigger and less diluted 
example of it than myself, made it all clear and right 
and natural. We belonged to the same forgotten 
place and time. Under his lead and guidance I 
could find my own — return. . . . ' 

I whistled a long soft whistle, looking up into 
the sky. Then, sitting upright like himself, we 
stared hard at one another, straight in the eye. He 
was too grave, too serious to trifle with. It would 
have been unfair too. Besides, I loved to hear him. 
The way he reared such fabulous superstructures 
upon slight incidents, interpreting thus his complex 
being to himself, was uncommonly interesting. It 
was observing the creative imagination actually at 
work, and the process in a sense seemed sacred. 
Only the truth and actuality with which he clothed 
it all made me a little uncomfortable sometimes. 

' I'll put it to you quite simply,' he cried suddenly. 

* Yes, and " quite simply " it was ? 

' That he knew the awful spiritual loneliness of 
living in a world whose tastes and interests were not 
his own, a world to which he was essentially foreign, 

£ 



so THE CENTAUR 



VI 



and at whose hands he suffered continual rebuff and 
rejection. Advances from either side were mutually 
and necessarily repelled because oil and water cannot 
mix. Rejected, moreover, not merely by a family, 
tribe, or nation, but by a race and time — by the 
whole World of To-day ; an outcast and an alien, a 
desolate survival.' 

' An appalling picture ! ' 

' I understood it,' he went on, holding up both 
hands by way of emphasis, ' because in miniature I 
had suffered the same : he was a supreme case of 
what lay so deeply in myself. He was a survival of 
other life the modern mind has long since agreed to 
exile and deny. Humanity stared at him over a 
barrier, never dreaming of asking him in. Even had 
it done so he could not by the law of his being have 
accepted. Outcast meself in some small way, I 
understood his terrible loneliness, a soul without a 
country, visible and external country that is. A 
passion of tenderness and sympathy for him, and so 
also for myself, awoke. I saw him as chieftain of 
all the lonely, exiled souls of life.' 

Breathless a moment, he lay on his back staring 
at the summer clouds — those thoughts of wind that 
change and pass before their meanings can be quite 
seized. Similarly protean was the thought his phrases 
tried to clothe. The terror, pathos, sadness of this 
big idea he strove to express touched me deeply, yet 
never quite with the clarity of his own conviction. 

' There are such souls, dipaysies and in exile,' he 
said suddenly again, turning over on the grass. 
' They do exist. They walk the earth to-day here 
and there in the bodies of ordinary men . . . and 
their loneliness is a loneliness that must be whispered.' 

* You formed any idea what kind of — of survival ? ' 



VI THE CENTAUR 51 

I asked gently, for the notion grew in me that after 
all these two would prove to be mere revolutionaries 
in escape, political refugees, or something quite 
ordinary. 

O'Malley buried his face in his hands for a 
moment without replying. Presently he looked up. 
I remember that a streak of London black ran from 
the corner of his mouth across the cheek. He 
pushed the hair back from his forehead, answering in 
a manner grown abruptly calm and dispassionate. 

* Don't ye see what a foolish question that is,' 
he said quietly, ' and how impossible to satisfy, 
inviting that leap of invention which can be only an 
imaginative lie .^ ... I can only tell you,' and the 
breeze brought to us the voices of children from the 
Round Pond where they sailed their ships of equally 
wonderful adventure, * that my own longing became 
this : to go with him, to know what he knew, to 
live where he lived — for ever.' 

' And the alarm you said you felt ^ ' 

He hesitated. 

' That,' he added, ' was a kind of mistake. To 
go involved, I felt, an inner catastrophe that might 
be Death — that it would be out of the body, I mean, 
or a going backwards. In reality, it was a going 
forwards and a way to Life.* 



VII 

And it was just before the steamer made Naples that 
the jolly Captain unwittingly helped matters forward 
a good deal. For it was his ambition to include in 
the safe-conduct of his vessel the happy-conduct also 
of his passengers. He liked to see them contented 
and of one accord, a big family, and he noted — or 
had word brought to him perhaps — that there were 
one or two whom the attitude of the majority left 
out in the cold. 

It may have been — O'Malley wondered without 
actually asking — that the man who shared the cabin 
with the strangers made some appeal for re-arrange- 
ment, but in any case Captain Burgenfelder approached 
the Irishman that afternoon on the bridge and asked 
if he would object to having them in his state-room 
for the balance of the voyage. 

* Your present gompanion geds off at Naples,' he 
said. ' Berhaps you would not object. I think — 
they seem lonely. You are friendly with them. 
They go alzo to Batoum .'' ' 

This proposal for close quarters gave him pause. 
He knew a moment or two of grave hesitation, yet 
without time to analyze it. Then, driven by a 
sudden decision of the heart that knew no revision 
of reason, he agreed. 

52 



VII THE CENTAUR 53 

* I had better, perhaps, suggest it to see if they 
are willing,' he said the next minute, hedging. 

' I already ask him dat.' 

* Oh, you have ! And he would like it — not 
object, I mean ? ' he added, aware of a subtle sense 
of half-frightened pleasure. 

' Pleased and flattered on the gontrary,' was the 
reply, as he handed him the glasses to look at Ischia 
rising blue from the sea. 

O'M alley felt as though his decision was somehow 
an act of self-committal, almost grave. It meant 
that impulsively he accepted a friendship which 
concealed in its immense attraction — danger. He 
had taken the plunge. 

The rush of it broke over him like a wave, 
setting free a tumult of very deep emotion. He 
raised the glasses automatically to his eyes, but look- 
ing through them he saw not Ischia nor the opening the 
Captain explained the ship would make, heading that 
evening for Sicily. He saw quite another picture that 
drew itselt up out of himself — was thrown up, rather, 
somewhat with violence, as upon a landscape of 
dream-scenery. The lens of passionate yearning in 
himself, ever unsatisfied, focussed it against a back- 
ground far, far away, in some faint distance that was 
neither of space nor time, and might equally have 
been past as future. Large figures he saw, shadowy 
yet splendid, that ran free-moving as clouds over 
mighty hills, vital with the abundant strong life of a 
younger world. . . . Yet never quite saw them, 
never quite overtook them, for their speed and the 
manner of their motion bewildered the sight. . . . 

Moreover, though they evaded him in terms of 
physical definition he knew a sense of curious, half- 
remembered familiarity. Some portion of his hidden 



54 THE CENTAUR vii 

self, uncaught, unharnessed by anything in modern 
life, rose with a passionate rush of joy and made after 
them — something in him untamed as wind. His 
mind stood up, as it were, and shouted ' I am 
coming.' For he saw himself not far behind, as a 
man, racing with great leaps to join them . . . yet 
never overtaking, never drawing close enough to 
see quite clearly. The roar of their tramping shook 
the very blood in his ears. . . . 

His decision to accept the strangers had set free 
in his being something that thus for the first time in 
his life — escaped. . . . Symbolically in his mind 
this Escape had taken picture form. . . . 

The Captain's voice was asking for the glasses ; 
with a wrench that caused almost actual physical 
pain he tore himself away, letting this herd of Flying 
Thoughts sink back into the shadows and disappear. 
With sharp regret he saw them go — a regret for long, 
long, far-off things. . . . 

Turning, he placed the field-glasses carefully in 
that fat open hand stretched out to receive them, 
and noted as he did so the thick, pink fingers that 
closed about the strap, the heavy ring of gold, the 
band of gilt about the sleeve. That wrought gold, 
those fleshy fingers, the genial gutteral voice saying 
' T'anks ' were symbols of an existence tamed and 
artificial that caged him in again. . . . 

Then he went below and found that the lazy 
* drummer ' who talked harvest-machines to puzzled 
peasants had landed, and in his place an assortment 
of indiscriminate clothing belonging to the big 
Russian and his son lay scattered over the upper 
berth and upon the sofa-bed beneath the port-hole. 



VIII 

' For my own part I find in some of these abnormal or supernormal 
facts ' the strongest suggestions in favour of a superior consciousness 
being possible. I doubt whether we shall ever understand some of 
them without using the very letter of Fechner's conception of a great 
reservoir in which the memories of earth's inhabitants are pooled and 
preserved, and from which, when the threshold lowers or the valve 
opens, information ordinarily shut out leaks into the mind of 
exceptional individuals among us.' — William James, A Pluralistic 
Universe. 

And it was some hours later, while the ship made 
for the open sea, that he told Dr. Stahl casually of 
the new arrangement and saw the change come so 
suddenly across his face. Stahl stood back ~fi=om-the 
compass-box whereon they leaned, and putting a hand 
upon his companion's shoulder, looked a moment into 
his eyes. With surprise O'Malley noted that the 
pose of cynical disbelief was gone ; in its place was 
sympathy, interest, kindness. The words he spoke 
came from his heart. 

' Is that true .'' ' he asked, as though the news 
disturbed him. 

'Of course. Why not.? Is there anything 
wrong.?' He felt uneasy. The doctor's manner 
confirmed the sense that he had done a rash thing. 
Instantly the barrier between the two crumbled and 
he lost the first feeling of resentment that his friends 

^ Divided or split personality, automatic speech and writing, mediumship 
and possession generally. 

55 



S6 THE CENTAUR viii 

should be analyzed. The men thus came together 
in unhindered sincerity. 

' Only,' said the doctor thoughtfully, half 
gravely, ' that — I may have done you a wrong, placed 
you, that is, in a position of — ' he hesitated an instant, 
— ' of difficulty. It was I who suggested the change.' 

O'Malley stared at him. 

' I don't understand you quite.' 

' It is this,' continued the other, still holding him 
with his eyes. He said it deliberately. ' I have 
known you for some time, formed — er — an opinion 
of your type of mind and being — a very rare and 
curious one, interesting me deeply ' 

' I wasn't aware you'd had me under the micro- 
scope,' O'Malley laughed, but restlessly. 

' Though you felt it and resented it — justly, I 
may say — to the point of sometimes avoiding me ' 

* As doctor, scientist,' put in O'Malley, while the 
other, ignoring the interruption, continued in 
German :— 

* I always had the secret hope, as " doctor and 
scientist," let us put it then, that I might one day 
see you in circumstances that should bring out certain 
latent characteristics I thought I divined in you. I 
wished to observe you — your psychical being — under 
the stress of certain temptations, favourable to these 
characteristics. Our brief voyages together, though 
they have so kindly ripened our acquaintance into 
friendship ' — he put his hand again on the other's 
shoulder smiling, while O'Malley replied with a little 
nod of agreement — ' have, of course, never provided 
the opportunity 1 refer to * 

' Ah ! ' 

' Until now ! ' the doctor added. * Until now.' 
Puzzled and interested the Irishman waited for 



VIII THE CENTAUR 57 

him to go on, but the man of science, who was now 
a ship's doctor, hesitated. He found it difficult, 
apparently, to say what was in his thoughts. 

' You refer, of course, though I hardly follow you 
quite — to our big friends.? ' O'Malley helped him. 

The adjective slipped out before he was aware of 
it. His companion's expression admitted the accuracy 
of the remark. * You also see them — big, then .? ' he 
said, quickly taking him up. He was not cross- 
questioning ; out of keen sympathetic interest he 
asked it. 

'Sometimes, yes,' the Irishman answered, more 
astonished. ' Sometimes only ' 

* Exactly. Bigger than they really are ; as though 
at times they gave out — emanated — something that 
extended their appearance. Is that it ? ' 

O'Malley, his confidence wholly won, more 
surprised, too, than he quite understood, seized Stahl 
by the arm and drew him towards the rails. They 
leaned over, watching the sea. A passenger, pacing 
the decks before dinner, passed close behind them. 

* But, doctor,' he said in a hushed tone as soon as 
the steps had died away, ' you are saying things that 
I thought were half in my imagination only, not true 
in the ordinary sense quite — your sense, I mean ^ ' 

For some moments the doctor made no reply. In 
his eyes a curious steady gaze replaced the usual 
twinkle. When at length he spoke it was evidently 
following a train of thought of his own, playing 
round a subject he seemed half ashamed of and yet 
desired to state with direct language. 

' A being akin to yourself,' he said in low tones, 
' only developed, enormously developed ; a Master 
in your own peculiar region, and a man whose 
influence acting upon you at close quarters could not 



58 THE CENTAUR viii 

fail to arouse the latent mind-storms' — he chose the 
word hesitatingly, as though seeking for a better he 
could not find on the moment, — ' always brewing in 
you just below the horizon,' 

He turned and watched his companion's face 
keenly. O'Malley was too impressed to feel annoy- 
ance. 

* Well — ? ' he asked, feeling the adventure closing 
round him with quite a new sense of reality. * Well ? ' 
he repeated louder. ' Please go on. I'm not offended, 
only uncommonly interested. You leave me in a fog, 
so far. I think you owe me more than hints.' 

' I do,' said the other simply. ' About that man 
is a singular quality too rare for language to have 
yet coined its precise description : something that is 
essentially ' — they had lapsed into German now, and 
he used the German word — ' unheimlich.^ 

The Irishman started. He recognized this for 
truth. At the same time the old resentment stirred 
a little in him, creeping into his reply. 

' You have studied him closely then — had him, too, 
under the microscope ^ In this short time } ' 

This time the answer did not surprise him, however. 

' My friend,' he heard, while the other turned 
from him and gazed out over the misty sea, ' I have 
not been a ship's doctor — always. I am one now 
only because the leisure and quiet give me the 
opportunity to finish certain work, recording work. 

For years I was in the H ' — he mentioned the 

German equivalent for the Salp^tri^re — ' years of 
research and investigation into the astonishing vagaries 
of the human mind and spirit — with certain results, 
followed later privately, that it is now my work to 
record. And among many cases that might well 
seem — er — beyond either credence or explanation,' — 



VIII THE CENTAUR 59 

he hesitated again slightly — ' I came across one, one 
in a million, let us admit, that an entire section of 
my work deals with under the generic term of 
Urmenschen.^ 

' Primitive men,' O'Malley snapped him up, 
translating. Through his growing bewilderment 
ran also a growing uneasiness shot strangely with 
delight. Intuitively he divined what was coming. 

' Beings,' the doctor corrected him, ' not men. 
The prefix Ur-^ moreover, I use in a deeper sense 
than is usually attached to it as in Urwaldy 
Urwelt^ and the like. An Urmensch in the world 
to-day must suggest a survival of an almost incredible 
kind — a kind, too, utterly inadmissible and inexpli- 
cable to the materialist perhaps ' 

* Paganistic } ' interrupted the other sharply, joy 
and fright rising over him. 

' Older, older by far,' was the rejoinder, given 
with a curious hush and a lowering of the voice. 

The suggestion rushed into full possession of 
O'Malley 's mind. There rose in him something 
that claimed for his companions the sea, the wind, 
the stars — tumultuous and terrific. But he said 
nothing. The conception, blown into him thus for 
the first time at full strength, took all his life into 
its keeping. No energy was left over for mere 
words. The doctor, he was aware, was looking at 
him, the passion of discovery and belief in his eyes. 
His manner kindled. It was the hidden Stahl 
emerging. 

* ... a type, let me put it,* he went on in a 
voice whose very steadiness thrilled his listener 
afresh, *that in its strongest development would 
experience in the world to-day the loneliness of a 
complete and absolute exile. A return to humanity, 



6o THE CENTAUR viii 

you see, of some unexpended power of mythological 
values. . . .' 

* Doctor . . . ! ' 

The shudder passed through him and away 
almost as soon as it came. Again the sea grew 
splendid, the thunder of the waves held voices call- 
ing, and the foam framed shapes and faces, wildly 
seductive, though fugitive as dreams. The words 
he had heard moved him profoundly. He re- 
membered how the presence of the stranger had 
turned the world alive. 

He knew what was coming, too, and gave the 
lead direct, while yet half afraid to ask the question. 

' So my friend — this big " Russian " ^ ' 

' I have known before, yes, and carefully studied.' 



IX 



* Is it not just possible that there is a mode of being as much tran- 
scending Intelligence and Will as these transcend mechanical motion ? ' 
— Herbert Spencer, First Principles. 

The two men left the rail and walked arm in arm 
along the deserted deck, speaking in lowered 
voices. 

' He came first to us, brought by the keeper of 
an obscure hotel where he was staying, as a case 
of lapse of memory — loss of memory, I should say, 
for it was complete. He was unable to say who he 
was, whence he came, or to whom he belonged. Of 
his land or people we could learn nothing. His 
antecedents were an utter blank. Speech he had 
practically none of his own — nothing but the merest 
smattering of many tongues, a word here, a word 
there. Utterance, indeed, of any kind was exceed- 
ingly difficult to him. For years, evidently, he had 
wandered over the world, companionless among men, 
seeking his own, finding no place where to lay his 
head. People, it seemed, both men and women, 
kept him at arm's-length, feeling afraid ; the keeper 
of the little hotel was clearly terrified. This quality 
he had that I mentioned just now, repelled human 
beings — even in the Hospital it was noticeable — and 
placed him in the midst of humanity thus absolutely 

6i 



62 THE CENTAUR ix 

alone. It is a quality more rare than ' — hesitating, 
searching for a word — ' purity, one almost extinct 
to-day, one that I have never before or since come 
across in any other being — hardly ever, that is to 
say,' he qualified the sentence, glancing significantly 
at his companion. 

* And the boy .? ' O'Malley asked quickly, anxious 
to avoid any discussion of himself. 

' There was no boy then. He has found him 
since. He may find others too — possibly ! ' The 
Irishman drew his arm out, edging away impercept- 
ibly. That shiver of joy reached him from the air 
and sea, perhaps. 

* And two years ago,' continued Dr. Stahl, as if 
nothing had happened, * he was discharged, harmless ' 
— he lingered a moment on the word, * if not cured. 
He was to report to us every six months. He has 
never done so,' 

' You think he remembers you ^ ' 

* No. It is quite clear that he has lapsed back 
completely again into the — er — state whence he 
came to us, that unknown world where he passed 
his youth with others of his kind, but of which he 
has been able to reveal no single detail to us, nor we 
to trace the slightest clue.' 

They stopped beneath the covered portion of the 
deck, for the mist had now turned to rain. They 
leaned against the smoking-room outer wall. In 
O'Malley's mind the thoughts and feelings plunged 
and reared. Only with difficulty did he control 
himself. 

*And this man, you think,' he asked with out- 
ward calmness, ' is of — of my kind ? ' 

' " Akin," I said. I suggest ' But O'Malley 

cut him short. 



IX THE CENTAUR 63 

' So that you engineered our sharing a cabin with 
a view to putting him again — putting us both — under 
the microscope ? ' 

* My scientific interest was very strong,' Dr. Stahl 
replied carefully. * But it is not too late to change. 
I offer you a bed in my own roomy cabin on the 
promenade deck. Also, I ask your forgiveness.' 

The Irishman, large though his imaginative creed 
was, felt oddly checked, baffled, stupefied by what he 
had heard. He knew perfectly well what Stahl was 
driving at, and that revelations of another kind were 
yet to follow. What bereft him of very definite 
speech was this new fact slowly awakening in his 
consciousness which hypnotized him, as it were, with 
its grandeur. It seemed to portend that his own 
primitive yearnings, so-called, grew out of far deeper 
foundations than he had yet dreamed of even. Stahl, 
should he choose to listen, meant to give him ex- 
planation, quasi- scientific explanation. This talk 
about a survival of ' unexpended mythological values ' 
carried him off his feet. He knew it was true. 
Veiled behind that carefully chosen phrase was some- 
thing more — a truth brilliantly discovered. He 
knew, too, that it bit at the platform-boards upon 
which his personality, his sanity, his very life, perhaps, 
rested — his modern life. 

' I forgive you. Dr. Stahl,' he heard himself saying 
with a deceptive calmness of voice as they stood 
shoulder to shoulder in that dark corner, ' for there 
is really nothing to forgive. The characteristics 
of these Urmenschen you describe attract me very 
greatly. Your words merely give my imagination 
a letter of introduction to my reason. They burrow 
among the foundations of my life and being. At 
least — you have done me no wrong. . . .' He 



64 THE CENTAUR ix 

knew the words were wild, impulsive, yet he could 
find no better. Above all things he wished to con- 
ceal his rising, grand delight. 

' I thank you,' Stahl said simply, yet with a certain 
confusion. ' I — felt I owed you this explanation — er 
— this confession.' 

* You wished to warn me .'' ' 

' I wished to say " Be careful " rather. I say it now 
— Be careful ! I give you this invitation to share 
my cabin for the remainder of the voyage, and I urge 
you to accept it.' The offer was from the heart, 
while the scientific interest in the man obviously half 
hoped for a refusal. 

* You think harm might come to me .'' ' 

' Not physically. The man is gentle and safe in 
every way.' 

' But there is danger — in your opinion ^ ' insisted 
the other. 

' There is danger ' 

' That his influence may make me as himself — an 
Urmensch ? ' 

' That he may — get you,' was the curious answer, 
given steadily after a moment's pause. 

Again the words thrilled O'Malley to the core of 
his delighted, half-frightened soul. ' You really mean 
that.? 'he asked again; 'as "doctor and scientist," 
you mean it ? ' 

Stahl repHed with a solemn anxiety in eyes and 
voice. ' I mean that you have in yourself that 
" quality " which makes the proximity of this " being " 
dangerous : in a word that he may take you — er — 
with him.' 

* Conversion .? ' 

* Appropriation.* 

They moved further up the deck together for 



IX THE CENTAUR 6^ 

some minutes in silence, but the Irishman's feelings, 
irritated by the man's prolonged evasion, reached a 
degree of impatience that was almost anger. 'Let 
us be more definite/ he exclaimed at length a trifle 
hotly. * You mean that I might go insane ? ' 

• Not in the ordinary sense,' came the answer 
without a sign of annoyance or hesitation ; * but 
that something might happen to you — something 
that science could not recognize and medical science 
could not treat ' 

Then O'Malley interrupted him with the vital 
question that rushed out before he could consider its 
wisdom or legitimacy. 

* Then what really is he — this man, this " being " 
whom you call a " survival," and who makes you fear 
for my safety. Tell me exactly what he is .? * 

They found themselves just then by the doctor's 
cabin, and Stahl, pushing the door open, led him in. 
Taking the sofa for himself, he pointed to an arm- 
chair opposite. 



X 

'Superstition is outside reason ; so is revelation.' — Old Saying. 

And O'Malley understood that he had pressed the 
doctor to the verge of confessing some belief that he 
was ashamed to utter or to hold, something forced 
upon him by his out-of-the-way experience of life 
to which his scientific training said peremptorily ' No.' 
Further, that he watched him keenly all the time, 
noting the effect his words produced. 

* He is not a human being at all,' he continued 
with a queer thin whisper that conveyed a gravity of 
conviction singularly impressive, ' in the sense in 
which you and I are accustomed to use the term. 
His inner being is not shaped, as his outer body, upon 
quite — human lines. He is a Cosmic Being — a 
direct expression of cosmic life. A little bit, a 
fragment, of the Soul of the World, and in that sense 
a survival — a survival of her youth.' 

The Irishman, as he listened to these utterly 
unexpected words, felt something rise within him 
that threatened to tear him asunder. Whether it was 
joy or terror, or compounded strangely of the two, 
he could not tell. It seemed as if he stood upon the 
edge of hearing something — spoken by a man who 
was no mere dreamer like himself — that would 
explain the world, himself, and all his wildest cravings. 
He both longed and feared to hear it. In his hidden 

66 



I 



X THE CENTAUR 67 

and most secret , thoughts, those thoughts he never 
uttered to another, this deep belief in the Earth as a 
conscious, sentient, living Being had persisted in 
spite of all the forces education and modern life had 
turned against it. It seemed in him an undying 
instinct, an unmovable conviction, though he hardly 
dared acknowledge it even to himself. 

He had always ' dreamed ' the Earth alive, a mother- 
ing organism to humanity ; and himself, via his love of 
Nature, in some sweet close relation to her that other 
men had forgotten or ignored. Now, therefore, to 
hear Stahl talk of Cosmic Beings, fragments of 
the Soul of the World, and * survivals of her early 
life ' was like hearing a great shout of command to 
his soul to come forth and share it in complete 
acknowledgment. 

He bit his lips, pinched himself, stared. Then he 
took the black cigar he was aware was being handed 
to him, lit it with fingers that trembled absurdly, and 
smoked as hard as though his sanity depended on his 
finishing it in a prescribed time. Great clouds rose 
before his face. But his soul within him came up 
with a flaming rush of speed, shouting, singing. . . . 

There was enough ash to knock off into the bronze 
tray beside him before either said a word. He watched 
the little operation as closely as though he were aiming 
a rifle. The ash, he saw, broke firmly. * This must 
be a really good cigar,' he thought to himself, for as 
yet he had not been conscious of tasting it. The ash- 
tray, he also saw, was a kind of nymph, her spread 
drapery forming the receptacle. ' I must get one of 
those,' he thought. ' I wonder what they cost.' 
Then he puiFed violently again. The doctor had 
risen and was pacing the cabin floor slowly over by 
the red curtain that concealed the bunk. O'Malley 



68 THE CENTAUR x 

absent-mindedly watched him, and as he did so the 
words he had heard kept on roaring at the back of his 
mind. 

And then, while silence still held the room, — swift, 
too, as a second although it takes time to write — 
flashed through him a memory of Fechner, the 
German philosopher who held that the Universe was 
everywhere consciously alive, and that the Earth was 
the body of a living Entity, and that the World-Soul 
or Cosmic Consciousness is something more than a 
picturesque dream of the ancients. . . . 

The doctor came to anchor again on the sofa 
opposite. To his great relief he was the first to 
break the silence, for O'Malley simply did not know 
how or where to begin. 

' We know to-day — you certainly know for I've 
read it accurately described in your books — that the 
human personality can extend itself under certain 
conditions called abnormal. It can project portions 
of itself, show itself even at a distance, operate away 
from the central covering body. In exactly similar 
fashion may the Being of the Earth have projected 
portions of herself in the past. Of such great powers 
or beings there may be conceivably a survival . . . 
a survival of a hugely remote period when her 
Consciousness was manifested, perhaps, in shapes and 
forms long since withdrawn before the tide of 
advancing humanity . . . forms of which poetry 
and legend alone have caught a flying memory and 
called them gods, monsters, mythical beings of all 
sorts and kinds. . . .' 

And then, suddenly, as though he had been de- 
liberately giving his imagination rein yet now 
regretted it, his voice altered, his manner assumed a 
shade of something colder. He shifted the key, as 



X THE CENTAUR 69 

though to another aspect of his belief. The man 
was talking swiftly of his experiences in the big and 
private hospitals. He was describing the very belief 
to which he had first found himself driven — the belief 
that had opened the door to so much more. So far 
as O'Malley could follow it in his curiously excited 
condition of mind, it was little more or less than a 
belief he himself had often played lovingly with — the 
theory that a man has a fluid or etheric counterpart 
of himself which is obedient to strong desire and can, 
under certain conditions, be detached — projected — in 
a shape dictated by that desire. 

He only realized this fully later perhaps, for the 
doctor used a phraseology of his own. Stahl was 
telling calmly how he had been driven to some such 
belief by the facts that had come under his notice 
both in the asylums and in his private practice. 

*. . . That in the amazingly complex personality 
of a human being,' he went on, * there does exist 
some vital constituent, a part of consciousness, that 
can leave the body for a short time without involving 
death ; that it is something occasionally visible to 
others ; something malleable by thought and desire — 
especially by intense and prolonged yearning ; and 
that it can even bring relief to its owner by satisfying 
in some subjective fashion the very yearnings that 
drew it forth.' 

' Doctor ! You mean the " astral " .'' ' 

' There is no name I know of. I can give it none. 
I mean in other words that it can create the condi- 
tions for such satisfaction — dream-like, perhaps, yet 
intense and seemingly very real at the time. Great 
emotion, for instance, drives it forth, explaining thus 
appearances at a distance, and a hundred other 
phenomena that my investigations of abnormal 



70 THE CENTAUR x 

personality have forced me to recognize as true. 
And nostalgia often is the means of egress, the 
channel along which all the inner forces and desires 
of the heart stream elsewhere toward their fulfilment 
in some person, place, or dreamt 

Stahl was giving himself his head, talking freely 
of beliefs that rarely found utterance. Clearly it was 
a relief to him to do so — to let himself be carried 
away. There was, after all, the poet in him side by 
side with the observer and analyst, and the funda- 
mental contradiction in his character stood most 
interestingly revealed. O'Malley listened, half in a 
dream, wondering what this had to do with the 
Cosmic Life just mentioned. 

' Moreover, the appearance, the aspect of this 
etheric Double, moulded thus by thought, longing, 
and desire, corresponds to such thought, longing, and 
desire. Its shape, when visible shape is assumed, 
may be various — very various. The form might 
conceivably be /<?//, discerned clairvoyantly as an 
emanation rather than actually seen,' he continued. 

Then he added, looking closely at his companion, 
*and in your own case this Double — it has always 
seemed to me — may be peculiarly easy of detachment 
from the rest of you.' 

' I certainly create my own world and slip into 
it — to some extent,' murmured the Irishman, absorb- 
ingly interested ; * — reverie and so forth ; partially, 
at any rate.' 

* " Partially," yes, in your reveries of waking 
consciousness,' Stahl took him up, ' but in sleep — in 
the trance consciousness — completely ! And therein 
lies your danger,' he added gravely ; ' for to pass 
out completely in waking consciousness, is the next 
step — an easy one ; and it constitutes, not so much 



X THE CENTAUR 71 

a disorder of your being, as a readjustment, but a 
readjustment difficult of sane control.' He paused 
again. * You pass out while fully awake — a waking 
delusion. It is usually labelled — though in my 
opinion wrongly so — insanity.' 

* I'm not afraid of that,' O'Malley laughed, almost 
nettled. ' I can manage myself all right — have done 
so far, at any rate.' 

It was curious how the r61es had shifted. 
O'Malley it was now who checked and criticized. 

' I suggest caution,' was the reply, made earnestly. 
' I suggest caution.' 

' I should keep your warnings for mediums, 
clairvoyants, and the like,' said the other tartly. He 
was half amazed, half alarmed even while he said it. 
It was the personal application that annoyed him. 
* They are rather apt to go off their heads, I believe.' 

Dr. Stahl rose and stood before him as though 
the words had given him a cue he wanted. ' From 
that very medium - class,' he said, ' my most 
suggestive " cases " have come, though not for one 
moment do I think of including you with them. 
Yet these very " cases " have been due one and all to 
the same cause — the singular disorder I have just 
mentioned.' 

They stared at one another a moment in silence. 
Stahl, whether O'Malley liked it or no, was impressive. 
He gazed at the little figure in front of him, the 
ragged untidy beard, the light shining on the bald 
skull, wondering what was coming next and what all 
this bewildering confession of unorthodox belief was 
leading up to. He longed to hear more about that 
hinted Cosmic Life . . . and how yearning might 
lead to its realization. 

' For any phenomena of the s6ance-room that may 



72 THE CENTAUR x 

be genuine,' he heard him saying, ' are produced by 
this fluid, detachable portion of the personality, the 
very thing we have been speaking about. They are 
projections of the personality — automatic projections 
of the consciousness.' 

And then, like a clap of thunder upon his bewild- 
ered mind, came this man's amazing ultimatum, 
linking together all the points touched upon and 
bringing them to a head. He repeated it emphati- 
cally. 

'And in similar fashion,' concluded the calm, 
dispassionate voice beside him, ' there have been 
projections of the Earth's great consciousness — direct 
expressions of her cosmic life — Cosmic Beings. And 
of these distant and primitive manifestations, it is 
conceivable that one or two may still — here and there 
in places humanity has never stained — actually 
survive. This man is one of them.' 

He turned on the two electric lights behind him 
with an admirable air of finality. The extraordinary 
talk was at an end. He moved about the cabin, 
putting chairs straight and toying with the papers 
on his desk. Occasionally he threw a swift and 
searching glance at his companion, like a man who 
wished to note the effect of an attack. 

For, indeed, this was the impression that his 
listener retained above all else. This flood of wild, 
unorthodox, speculative ideas had been poured upon 
him helter-skelter with a purpose. And the abrupt- 
ness of the climax was cleverly planned to induce 
impulsive, hot confession. 

But O'Malley found no words. He sat there in 
his arm-chair, passing his fingers through his tumbled 
hair. His inner turmoil was too much for speech or 
questions . . . and presently, when the gong for 



X THE CENTAUR 73 

dinner rang noisily outside the cabin door, he rose 
abruptly and went out without a single word. Stahl 
turned to see him go. He merely nodded with a 
little smile. 

But he did not go to his state-room. He walked 
the deck alone for a time, and when he reached the 
dining-room, Stahl, he saw, had already come and 
gone. Halfway down the table, diagonally across, 
the face of the big Russian looked up occasionally at 
him and smiled, and every time he did so the Irish- 
man felt a sense of mingled alarm and wonder greater 
than anything he had ever known in his life before. 
One of the great doors of life again had opened. 
The barriers of his heart broke away. He was no 
longer caged and manacled within the prison of a 
puny individuality. The world that so distressed 
him faded. The people in it were dolls. The fur- 
merchant, the Armenian priest, the tourists and the 
rest were mere automatic puppets, all made to scale 
— petty scale, amazingly dull, all exactly alike — 
tiny, unreal, half alive. 

The ship, meanwhile, he reflected with a joy that 
was passion, was being borne over the blue sea, and 
this sea lay spread upon the curved breast of the 
round and spinning earth. He, too, and the big 
Russian lay upon her breast, held close by gravity so- 
called, caught closer still, though, by something else 
besides. And his longings increased with his under- 
standing. Stahl, wittingly or unwittingly, had given 
them an immense push forwards. 



XI 



* In scientific terms one can say : Consciousness is everywhere ; it 
is awake when and wherever the bodily energy underlying the spiritual 
exceeds that degree of strength which we call the threshold. According 
to this, consciousness can be localized in time and space.' — Fechner, 
Buchlein votn Leben nach dent Tode. 

The offer of the cabin, meanwhile, remained open. 
In the solitude that O'Malley found necessary that 
evening he toyed with it, though knowing that he 
would never really accept. 

Like a true Celt his imagination took the main 
body of Stahl's words and ensouled them with his 
own vivid temperament. There stirred in him this 
nameless and disquieting joy that wrought for itself 
a Body from material just beyond his thoughts — that 
region of enormous experience that ever fringes the 
consciousness of imaginative men. He took the 
picture at its face value, took it inside with his own 
thoughts, delighted in it, raised it, of course, very 
soon to a still higher scale. If he criticized at all it 
was with phrases like ' The man's a poet after all ! 
Why, he's got creative imagination ! ' To find his 
own intuitions endorsed, even half explained, by a 
mind of opposite type was a new experience. It 
emphasized amazingly the reality of that inner world 
he lived in. 

This explanation of the big Russian's effect upon 
74 



XI THE CENTAUR 75 

himself was terrific, and that a * doctor ' should have 
conceived it, glorious. That some portion of a man's 
spirit might assume the shape of his thoughts and 
project itself visibly seemed likely enough. Indeed, 
to him, it seemed already a ' fact,' and his tempera- 
ment did not linger over it. But that other 
suggestion fairly savaged him with its strange 
grandeur. He played lovingly with it. 

That the Earth was a living being was a con- 
ception divine in size as in simplicity, and that the 
Gods and mythological figures had been projections 
of her consciousness — this thought ran with a 
magnificent new thunder about his mind. It was 
overwhelming, beautiful as Heaven and as gracious. 
He saw the ancient shapes of myth and legend still 
alive in some gorgeous garden of the primal world, a 
corner too remote for humanity to have yet stained 
it with their trail of uglier life. He understood 
in quite a new way, at last, those deep primitive 
longings that hitherto had vainly craved their full 
acknowledgment. It meant that he lay so close to 
the Earth that he felt her pulses as his own. The 
idea stormed his belief. 

It was the Soul of the Earth herself that all these 
years had been calling to him. 

And while he let his imagination play with the 
soaring beauty of the idea, he remembered certain odd 
little facts. He marshalled them before him in a row 
and questioned them : The picture he had seen with 
the Captain's glasses — those speeding shapes of beauty ; 
the new aspect of a living Nature that the Russian's 
presence stirred in him ; the man's broken words as 
they had leaned above the sea in the dusk ; the 
curious passion that leaped to his eyes when certain 
chance words had touched him at the dinner-table. 



76 THE CENTAUR xi 

And, lastly, the singular impression of giant bulk he 
produced sometimes upon the mind, almost as though 
a portion of him — this detachable portion moulded 
by the quality of his spirit as he felt himself to be — 
emerged visibly to cause it. 

Vaguely, in this way, O'Malley divined how 
inevitable was the apparent isolation of these two, 
and why others instinctively avoided them. They 
seemed by themselves in an enclosure where the 
parent lumberingly, and the boy defiantly, disported 
themselves with a kind of lonely majesty that forbade 
approach. 

And it was later that same night, as the steamer 
approached the Lipari Islands, that the drive forward 
he had received from the doctor's words was increased 
by a succession of singular occurrences. At the 
same time, Stahl's deliberate and as he deemed it un- 
justifiable interference, helped him to make up his 
mind decisively on certain other points. 

The first ' occurrence ' was of the same order as 
the * bigness ' — extraordinarily difficult, that is, to 
confirm by actual measurement. 

It was ten o'clock, Stahl still apparently in his 
cabin by himself, and most of the passengers below 
at an impromptu concert, when the Irishman, coming 
down from his long solitude, caught sight of the 
Russian and his boy moving about the dark after- 
deck with a speed and vigour that instantly arrested 
his attention. The suggestion of size, and of rapidity 
of movement, had never been more marked. It was 
as though a cloud of the summer darkness moved 
beside them. 

Then, going cautiously nearer, he saw that they 
were neither walking quickly, nor running, as he had 
first supposed, but — to his amazement — were stand- 



XI THE CENTAUR 77 

ing side by side upon the deck — stock still. The 
appearance of motion, however, was not entirely a 
delusion, for he next saw that, while standing there 
steady as the mast and life-boats behind them, some- 
thing emanated shadow-like from both their persons 
and seemed to hover and play about them — some- 
thing that was only approximately of their own 
outer shapes, and very considerably larger. Now 
it veiled them, now left them clear. He thought 
of smoke-clouds moving to and fro about dark 
statues. 

So far as he could focus his sight upon them, these 
' shadows,' without any light to cast them, moved in 
distorted guise there on the deck with a motion that 
was somehow rhythmical — a great movement as of 
dance or gambol. 

As with the appearance of ' bigness,' he perceived 
it first out of the corner of his eye. When he looked 
again he saw only two dark figures, motionless. 

He experienced the sensation a man sometimes 
knows on entering a deserted chamber in the night- 
time, and is aware that the things in it have just that 
instant — stopped. His arrival puts abrupt end to 
some busy activity they were engaged in, which 
begins again the moment he goes. Chairs, tables, 
cupboards, the very spots and patterns of the wall 
have just flown back to their usual places whence 
they watch impatiently for his departure — with the 
candle. 

This time, on a deck instead of in a room, 
O'Malley with his candle had surprised them in the 
act : people, moreover, not furniture. And this 
shadowy gambol, this silent Dance of the Emanations, 
immense yet graceful, made him think of Winds 
flying, visible and uncloaked, somewhere across long 



78 THE CENTAUR xi 

hills, or of Clouds passing to a stately, elemental 
measure over the blue dancing-halls of an open sky. 
His imagery was confused and gigantic, yet very 
splendid. Again he recalled the pictured shapes 
seen with his mind's eye through the Captain's 
glasses. And as he watched, he felt in himself 
what he called ' the wild, tearing instinct to run and 
join them,' more even — that by rights he ought to 
have been there from the beginning — dancing with 
them — indulging a natural and instinctive and 
rhythmical movement that he had somehow for- 
gotten. 

The passion in him was very strong, very urgent, 
it seems, for he took a step forward, a call of some 
kind rose in his throat, and in another second he 
would have been similarly cavorting upon the deck, 
when he felt his arm clutched suddenly with vigour 
from behind. Some one seized him and held him 
back. A German voice spoke with a guttural whisper 
in his ear. 

Dr. Stahl, crouching and visibly excited, drew 
him forward a little. * Hold up ! ' he heard 
whispered — for their india-rubber soles slithered on 
the wet decks. ' We shall see from here, eh ? See 
something at last ? ' He still whispered. O'Malley's 
sudden anger died down. He could not give vent 
to it without making noise, for one thing, and above 
all else he wished to — see. He merely felt a vague 
wonder how long Stahl had been watching. 

They crouched behind the lee of a boat. The 
outline of the ship rose, distinctly visible against the 
starry sky, masts, spars, and cordage. A faint gleam 
came through the glass below the compass - box. 
The wheel and the heaps of coiled rope beyond rose 
and fell with the motion of the vessel, now against 



XI 



THE CENTAUR 79 



I 



the stars, now black against the phosphorescent foam 
that trailed along the sea like shining lace. But the 
human figures, he next saw, were now doing nothing, 
not even pacing the deck ; they were no longer of 
unusual size either. Quietly leaning over the rail, 
father and son side by side, they were guiltless of 
anything more uncommon than gazing into the sea. 
Like the furniture, they had just — stopped ! 

Dr. Stahl and his companion waited motionless 
for several minutes in silence. There was no sound 
but the dull thunder of the screws, and a faint windy 
whistle the ship's speed made in the rigging. The 
passengers were all below. Then, suddenly, a burst 
of music came up as some one opened a saloon port- 
hole and as quickly closed it again — a tenor voice 
singing to the piano some trivial modern song with a 
trashy sentimental lilt. It was — in this setting of 
sea and sky — painful ; O'Malley caught himself 
thinking of a barrel-organ in a Greek temple. 

The same instant father and son, as though 
startled, moved slowly away down the deck into the 
further darkness, and Dr. Stahl tightened his grip 
of the Irishman's arm with a force that almost made 
him cry out. A gleam of light from the opened 
port-hole had fallen about them before they moved. 
Quite clearly it revealed them bending busily over, 
heads close together, necks and shoulders thrust 
forward and down a little. 

' Look, by God ! ' whispered Stahl hoarsely as 
they moved off. * There's a third ! ' 

He pointed. Where the two had been standing 
something, indeed, still remained. Concealed hitherto 
by their bulk, this other figure had been left. They 
saw its large, dim outline. It moved. Apparently 
it began to climb over the rails, or to move in some 



8o THE CENTAUR xi 

way just outside them, hanging half above the sea. 
There was a free, swaying movement about it, not 
ungainly so much as big — very big. 

* Now, quick ! ' whispered the doctor excited, in 
English ; * this time I find out, sure ! ' 

He made a violent movement forward, a pocket 
electric lamp in his hand, then turned angrily, 
furiously, to find that O'Malley held him fast. 
There was a most unseemly struggle — for a minute, 
and it was caused by the younger man's sudden 
passionate instinct to protect his own from discovery, 
if not from actual capture and destruction. 

Stahl fought in vain, being easily overmatched ; 
he swore vehement German oaths under his breath ; 
and the pocket-lamp, of course unlighted, fell and 
rattled over the deck, sliding with the gentle roll of 
the steamer to leeward. But O'Malley 's eyes, even 
while he struggled, never for one instant left the spot 
where the figure and the ' movement ' had been ; and 
it seemed to him that when the bulwarks dipped 
against the dark of the sea, the moving thing 
completed its eflfbrts and passed into the waves with 
a swift leap. When the vessel righted herself again 
the outline of the rail was clear. 

Dr. Stahl, he then saw, had picked up the lamp 
and was bending over some mark upon the deck, 
examining a wide splash of wet upon which he 
directed the electric flash. The sense of revived 
antagonism between the men for the moment was 
strong, too strong for speech. O'Malley feeling 
half ashamed, yet realized that his action had been 
instinctive, and that another time he would do just 
the same. He would fight to the death any too 
close inspection, since such inspection included also 
now — himself. 



XI 



THE CENTAUR 8i 



I 



The doctor presently looked up. His eyes shone 
keenly in the gleam of the lamp, but he was no 
longer agitated. 

' There is too much water,' he said calmly, as 
though diagnosing a case ; ' too much to permit of 
definite traces.' He glanced round, flashing the 
beam about the decks. The other two had dis- 
appeared. They were alone. ' It was outside the 
rail all the time, you see,' he added, ' and never quite 
reached the decks.' He stooped down and examined 
the splash once more. It looked as though a wave 
had topped the scuppers and left a running line of 
foam and water. ' Nothing to indicate its exact 
nature,' he said in a whisper that conveyed something 
between uneasiness and awe, again turning the light 
sharply in every direction and peering about him. 
' It came to them — er — from the sea, though ; it 
came from the sea right enough. That, at least, is 
positive.' And in his manner was perhaps just a 
touch to indicate relief. 

' And it returned into the sea,' exclaimed O'Malley 
triumphantly. It was as though he related his own 
escape. 

The two men were now standing upright, facing 
one another. Dr. Stahl, betraying no sign of resent- 
ment, looked him steadily in the eye. He put the 
lamp back into his pocket. When he spoke at 
length in the darkness, the words were not precisely 
what the Irishman had expected. Under them his 
own vexation and excitement faded instantly. He 
felt almost sheepish when he remembered his 
violence. 

* I forgive your behaviour, of course,' Stahl said, 
* for it is consistent — splendidly consistent — with my 
theory of you ; and of value, therefore. I only now 



82 THE CENTAUR xi 

urge you again ' — he moved closer, speaking almost 
solemnly — 'to accept the offer of a berth in my 
cabin. Take it, my friend, take it — to-night.' 

* Because you wish to watch me at close 
quarters.' 

' No,' was the reply, and there was sympathy in 
the voice, * but because you are in danger — especially 
in sleep.' 

There was a moment's pause before O'Malley 
said anything. 

* It is kind of you, Dr. Stahl, very kind,' he 
answered slowly, and this time with grave politeness ; 
* but I am not afraid, and I see no reason to make 
the change. And as it's now late,' he added some- 
what abruptly, almost as though he feared he might 
be persuaded to alter his mind, ' I will say good- 
night and turn in — if you will forgive me — at 
once.' 

Dr. Stahl said no further word. He watched 
him, the other was aware, as he moved down the 
deck towards the saloon staircase, and then turned 
once more with his lamp to stoop over the splashed 
portion of the boards. He examined the place 
apparently for a long time. 

But O'Malley, as he went slowly down the hot 
and stuffy stairs, realized with a wild and rushing 
tumult of joy that the 'third' he had seen was of 
a splendour surpassing the little figures of men, and 
that something deep within his own soul was most 
gloriously akin with it. A link with the Universe 
had been subconsciously established, tightened up, 
adjusted. From all this living Nature breathing 
about him in the night, a message had reached the 
strangers and himself — a message shaped in beauty 
and in power. Nature had become at last aware of 



xr THE CENTAUR 83 

his presence close against her ancient face. Hence- 
forth would every sight of Beauty take him direct to 
the place where Beauty comes from. No middleman, 
no Art was necessary. The gates were opening. 
Already he had caught a glimpse. 



XII 

In the state-room he found, without surprise some- 
how, that his new companions had already retired for 
the night. The curtain of the upper berth was 
drawn, and on the sofa-bed below the opened port- 
hole the boy already slept. Standing a moment in 
the little room with these two close, he felt that he 
had come into a new existence almost. Deep within 
him this sense of new life thrilled and glowed. He 
was shaking a little all over, not with the mere 
tremor of excitement, however, but with the tide of 
a vast and rising exultation he could scarce contain. 
For his normal self was too small to hold it. It 
demanded expansion, and the expansion it claimed 
had already begun. The boundaries of his personality 
were enormously extending. 

In words this change escaped him wholly. He 
only knew that something in him of an old unrest 
lay down at length and slept. Less acute grew those 
pangs of starvation his life had ever felt — the ache 
of that inappeasable hunger for the beauty and 
innocence of some primal state before thick human 
crowds had stained the world with all their strife and 
clamour. The glory of it burned white within him. 

And the way he described it to himself was 
significant of its true nature. For it was the analogy 

84 



XII THE CENTAUR 85 

of childhood. The passion of a boy's longing swept 
over him. He knew again the feelings of those 
early days when 

A boy's will is the wind's will, 
And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts, 

when all the world smells sweet and golden as a 
summer's day, and a village street is endless as the 
sky. . . . 

This it was, raised to its highest power, that 
dropped a hint of explanation into that queer heart 
of his wherein had ever burned the strange desire for 
primitive existence. It was the Call, though, not of 
his own youth alone, but of the youth of the world. 
A mood of the Earth's consciousness — some giant 
expression of her cosmic emotion — caught him. 
And it was the big Russian who acted as channel and 
interpreter. 

Before getting into bed, he drew aside the little 
red curtain that screened his companion, and peered 
cautiously through the narrow slit. The big occupant 
of the bunk also slept, his mane-like hair spread 
about him over the pillow, and on his great, placid 
face a look of peace that seemed to deepen with 
every day the steamer neared her destination. 
O'Malley gazed for a full minute and more. Then 
the sleeper felt the gaze, for suddenly the eyelids 
quivered, moved, and lifted. The large brown eyes 
peered straight into his own. The Irishman, unable 
to turn away in time, stood fixed and staring in 
return. The gentleness and power of the look 
passed straight down into his heart, filled him to the 
brim with things their owner knew, and confirmed 
that appeasement of his own hunger, already begun. 

'I tried — to prevent the — interference,' he 



86 THE CENTAUR 



XII 



stammered in a low voice. ' I held him back. You 
saw me ? ' 

A huge hand stretched forth from the bunk to 
stop him. Impulsively he seized it with both his 
own. At the first contact he started — a little 
frightened. It felt so wonderful, so mighty. Thus 
might a gust of wind or a billow of the sea have 
thrust against him. 

*A messenger — came,' said the man with that 
laborious slow utterance, and deep as thunder, 
* from — the — sea.' 

' From — the — sea, yes,' repeated O'Malley beneath 
his breath, yet conscious rather that he wanted to 
shout and sing it. He saw the big man smile. 
His own small hands were crushed in the grasp 
of power. ' I — understand,' he added in a 
whisper. He found himself speaking with a similar 
clogged utterance. Somehow, it seemed, the language 
they ought to have used was either forgotten or 
unborn. Yet whereas his friend was inarticulate 
perhaps, he himself was — dumb. These little modern 
words were all wrong and inadequate. Modern 
speech could only deal with modern smaller things. 

The giant half rose in his bed, as though at first 
to leap forward and away from it. He tightened an 
instant the grasp upon his companion's hands, then 
suddenly released them and pointed across the cabin. 
That smile of happiness spread upon his face. 
O'Malley turned. There the boy lay, deeply 
slumbering, the clothes flung back so that the air 
from the port-hole played over the bare neck and 
chest ; upon his face, too, shone the look of peace 
and rest his father wore, the hunted expression all 
gone, as though the spirit had escaped in sleep. 
The parent pointed, first to the boy, then to himself, 



XII 



THE CENTAUR 87 



then to this new friend standing beside his bed. 
The gesture including the three of them was of 
singular authority — invitation, welcome, and com- 
mand lay in it. More — in some incomprehensible 
way it was majestic. O'Malley's thought flashed 
upon him the limb of some great oak tree, swaying 
in the wind. 

Next, placing a finger on his lips, his eyes once 
more swept O'Malley and the boy, and he turned 
again into the little bunk that so difficultly held him, 
and lay back. The hair flowed down and mingled 
with the beard, over pillow and neck, almost to the 
shoulders. And something that was enormous and 
magnificent lay back with him, carrying with it 
again that sudden atmosphere of greater bulk. 
With a deep sound in his throat that was certainly 
no actual word and yet more expressive than any 
speech, he turned hugely over among the little, 
scanty sheets, drew the curtain again before his face, 
and returned into the world of — sleep. 



XllI 

' It may happen that the earthly body falls asleep in one direction 
deeply enough to allow it in others to awaken far beyond its usual 
limits, and yet not so deeply and completely as to awaken no more. 
Or, to the subjective vision there comes a Hash so unusually vivid as 
to bring to the earthly sense an impression rising above the threshold 
from an otherwise inaccessible distance. Here begin the wonders of 
clairvoyance, of presentiments, and premonitions in dreams ; — pure 
fables, if the future body and the future life are fables ; otherwise signs 
of the one and predictions of the other ; but what has signs exists, and 
what has prophecies will come.' — Fechner, Buchlein vom Leben nach 
dem Tode. 

But O'Malley rolled into his own berth below without 
undressing, sleep far from his eyes. He had heard 
the Gates of ivory and horn swing softly upon their 
opening hinges, and the glimpse he caught of the 
garden beyond made any question of slumber 
impossible. Again he saw those shapes of cloud and 
wind flying over the long hills, while the name that 
should describe them ran, hauntingly splendid, along 
the mysterious passages of his being, though never 
coming quite to the surface for capture. 

Perhaps, too, he was glad that the revelation was 
only partial. The size of the vision thus invoked 
awed him a little, so that he lay there half wondering 
at the complete surrender he had made to this 
guidance of another soul. 

Stahl's warnings ran far away and laughed. The 
idea even came to him that Stahl was playing with 
him : that his portentous words had been carefully 

88 



XIII THE CENTAUR 89 

chosen for their heightening effect upon his own 
imagination so that the doctor might study an 
uncommon and extreme 'case.' The notion passed 
through him merely, without lingering. 

In any event it was idle to put the brakes on 
now. He was internally committed and must go 
wherever it might lead. And the thought rejoiced 
him. He had climbed upon a pendulum that swung 
into an immense past ; but its return swing would 
bring him safely back. It was rushing now into that 
nameless place of freedom that the primitive portion 
of his being had hitherto sought in vain, and a 
fundamental, starved craving of his life would know 
satisfaction at last. Already life had grown all 
glorious without. It was not steel engines but a 
speeding sense of beauty that drove the ship over 
the sea with feet of winged blue darkness. The 
stars fled with them across the sky, dropping golden 
leashes to draw him faster and faster forwards — yet 
within — to the dim days when this old world yet was 
young. He took his fire of youth and spread it, as 
it were, all over life till it covered the entire world, 
far, far away. Then he stepped back into it, and 
the world herself, he found, stepped with him. 

He lay listening to the noises of the ship, the 
thump and bumble of the engines, the distant dron- 
ing of the screws under water. From time to time 
stewards moved down the corridor outside, and the 
footsteps of some late passenger still paced the decks 
overhead. He heard voices, too, and occasionally 
the clattering of doors. Once or twice he fancied 
some one moved stealthily to the cabin door and 
lingered there, but the matter never drew him to 
investigate, for the sound each time resolved itself" 
naturally into the music of the ship's noises. 



90 THE CENTAUR xiii 

And everything, meanwhile, heard or thought, fed 
the central concern upon which his mind was busy. 
These superficial sounds, for instance, had nothing to 
do with the real business of the ship ; that lay below 
with the buried engines and the invisible screws 
that worked like demons to bring her into port. 
And with himself and his slumbering companions 
the case was similar. Their respective power- 
stations, working in the subconscious, had urged 
them towards one another inevitably. How long, 
he wondered, had the spirit of that lonely, alien 
* being ' flashed messages into the void that reached 
no receiving-station tuned to their acceptance } 
Their accumulated power was great, the currents 
they generated immense. He knew. For had they 
not charged full into himself the instant he came 
on board, bringing an intimacy that was immediate 
and full-fledged .'' 

The untamed longings that always tore him when 
he felt the great winds, moved through forests, or 
found himself in desolate places, were at last on 
the high road to satisfaction — to some ' state ' where 
all that they represented would be explained and 
fulfilled. And whether such ' state ' should prove 
to be upon the solid surface of the earth, objective ; 
or in the fluid regions of his inner being, subjective 
— was of no account whatever. It would be true. 
The great figure that filled the berth above him, 
now deeply slumbering, had in him subterraneans 
that gave access not only to Greece, but far beyond 
that haunted land, to a state of existence symbolized 
in the legends of the early world by Eden and the 
Golden Age. . . . 

* You are in danger,' that wise old speculative 
doctor had whispered, ' and especially in sleep ! ' 



XIII THE CENTAUR 91 

But he did not sleep. He lay there thinking, 
thinking, thinking, a rising exaltation of desire 
paving busily the path along which eventually he 
might escape. 

As the night advanced and the lesser noises 
retired, leaving only the deep sound of the steamer 
talking to the sea, he became aware, too, that a 
change, at first imperceptibly, then swiftly, was steal- 
ing over the cabin. It came with a riot of silent 
Beauty. At a loss to describe it with precision, he 
nevertheless divined that it proceeded from the 
sleeping figure overhead and in a lesser, measure, 
too, from the boy upon the sofa opposite. It 
emanated from these two, he felt, in proportion as 
their bodies passed into deeper and deeper slumber, 
as though what occurred sometimes upon the decks 
by an act of direct volition, took place now auto- 
matically and with a fuller measure of release. Their 
spirits, free of that other world in sleep, were alert 
and potently discharging. Unconsciously, their vital, 
underlying essence escaped into activity. 

Growing about his own person, next, it softly 
folded him in, casing his inner being with glory 
and this crowding sense of beauty. This increased 
manifestation of psychic activity reached down into 
the very core of himself, like invisible fingers play- 
ing upon an instrument. Notes — powers — in his 
soul, hitherto silent because none had known how 
to sound them, rose singing to the surface. For it 
seemed at length that forms of some intenser life, 
busily operating, moved to and fro within the painted 
white walls of that little cabin, working subtly to 
bring about a transformation of himself. A singular 
change was fast and cleverly at work in his own being. 
It was, he puts it, a silent and irresistible Evocation. 



92 THE CENTAUR xiii 

No one of his senses was directly affected ; 
certainly he neither saw, felt, nor heard anything 
in the usual acceptance of the terms ; but any 
instant surely, it seemed that all his senses must 
awake and report to the mind things that were 
splendid beyond the common order. In the crudest 
aspect of it, he felt as though he extended and grew 
large — that he dreaded to see himself in the mirror 
lest he might witness an external appearance of 
bigness which corresponded to this interior expansion. 

For a long time he lay unresisting, letting the 
currents of this subjective tempest play through and 
round him. Entrancing sensations of beauty and 
rapture came with it. The outer world seemed 
remote and trivial, the passengers unreal — the priest, 
the voluble merchant, the jovial Captain, all spun 
like dead things at the periphery of life ; whereas 

he was moving toward the Centre, Stahl ! the 

thought of Dr. Stahl, alone intruded with a certain 
unwelcome air of hindrance, almost as though he 
sought to end it, or call a halt. But Stahl, too, 
himself presently spun off like a leaf before the 
rising wind. ... 

And then it was that an external sense was tapped, 
and he did hear something. From the berth over- 
head came a faint sound that made his heart stand 
still, though not with common fear. He listened 
intently. The blood tearing through his ears at 
first concealed its actual nature. It was far, far 
away ; then came closer, as a waft of wind brings 
near and carries off again a sound of bells in 
mountains. It fled over vales and hills, to return 
a moment after with suddenness — a little louder, a 
little nearer. And with it came an increase of this 
sense of beauty that stretched his heart, as it were, 



XIII THE CENTAUR 93 

to some deep ancient scale of joy once known, but 
long forgotten. . . . 

Across the cabin, the boy moved uneasily in his sleep. 

' Oh, that I could be with him where he now 
is ! ' he cried, * in that place of eternal youth and 
eternal companionship I ' The cry was instinctive 
utterly ; his whole being, condensed in the single 
yearning, pressed through it — drove behind it. The 
place, the companionship, the youth — all, he knew, 
would prove in some strange way enormous, vast, 
ultimately satisfying for ever and ever, far out of 
this little modern world that imprisoned him. . . . 

Again, most unwelcome and unexplained, the 
face of Stahl flashed suddenly before him to hinder 
and interrupt. He banished it with an effort, for 
it brought a smaller comprehension that somehow 
involved — fear. 

' Curse the man ! ' flamed in anger across his 
world of beauty, and the violence of the contrast 
broke something in his mind like a globe of coloured 
glass that had focussed the exquisiteness of the 
vision. . . . The sound continued as before, but 
its power of evocation lessened. The thought of 
Stahl — Stahl in his denying aspect — dimmed it. 

Glancing up at the frosted electric light, O'Malley 
felt vaguely that if he turned it out he would somehow 
yet see better, hear better, understand more ; and it was 
this practical consideration, introduced indirectly by 
the thought of Stahl, that made him realize now for 
the first time that he actually and definitely was — 
afraid. For, to leave his bunk with its comparative, 
protective dark, and step into the middle of a cabin 
he knew to be alive with a seethe of invisible charg- 
ing forces made him realize that distinct effort was 
necessary — effort of will. If he yielded he would 



94 THE CENTAUR xiii 

be caught up and away, swept from his known 
moorings, borne through high space out of himself. 
And Stahl with his cowardly warnings and belittle- 
ments set fear, thus, in the place of free acceptance. 
Otherwise he might even have come to these long 
blue hills where danced and raced the giant shapes 
of cloud, singing while ... ^ 

' Singing ' ! Ah ! There was the clue ! The 
sound he heard was singing — faint, low singing ; 
close beside him too. It was the big man, singing 
softly in his sleep. 

This ordinary explanation of the ' wonder-sound * 
brought him down to earth, and so to a more normal 
feeling of security again. He stepped cautiously 
from the bed, careful not to let the rings rattle on 
the rod of brass, and slowly raised himself upright. 
And then, through a slit of the curtain, he — saw. 
The lips of the big sleeper moved gently, the beard 
rising and falling very slightly with them, and this 
murmur that he had thought so far away, came out 
and sang deliciously and faint before his very face. It 
most curiously — flowed. Easily, naturally, almost 
automatically, it poured softly forth, and the Irish- 
man at once understood why he had first mistaken it 
for an echo of wind from distant hills. The imagery 
was entirely accurate. For it was precisely the sing- 
ing cry that wind makes in a keyhole, in a chimney, 
or passing idly over the sweep of grassy hills. 
Exactly thus had he often listened to it swishing 
through the crannies of high rocks, tuneless yet 
searching. In it, too, there lay some accent of a 
secret, dim sublimity, deeper far than any other 
human sound could touch. The terror of a great 
freedom caught him, a freedom most awfully remote 
from the smaller personal existence he knew To- 



k 



xiii THE CENTAUR 95 

day . . . for it suggested, with awe and wonder, the 
kind of primitive utterance that was before speech or 
the development of language ; when emotions were 
still too vague and mighty to be caught by little 
words, but when beings, close to the heart of their 
great Mother, expressed the feelings, enormous and 
uncomplex, of the greater life they shared as portions 
of her — projections of the Earth herself. 

With a crash in his brain, O'Malley stopped. 
These thoughts, he suddenly realized, were not his 
own. An attack of unwonted sensations stung and 
scattered his mind with a rush of giant splendour 
that threatened to overwhelm him. He was in the 
very act of being carried away ; his sense of personal 
identity menaced ; surrender wellnigh already complete. 

Another moment, especially if those eyes opened 
and caught him, he would be beyond recall in the 
region of these other two. The narrow space of 
that little cabin was charged already to the brim, 
filled with some overpowering loveliness of wild and 
simple things, the beauty of stars and winds and 
flowers, the terror of seas and mountains ; strange 
radiant forms of gods and heroes, nymphs, fauns 
and satyrs ; the fierce sunshine of some Golden Age 
unspoilt, of a stainless region now long forgotten and 
denied — that world of splendour his heart had ever 
craved in vain, and beside which the life of To-day 
faded to a wretched dream. 

It was the Urwelt calling. . . . 

With a violent internal effort, he tore his gaze 
from those eyelids that fortunately opened not. At 
the same moment, though he did not hear them, 
steps came close in the corridor, and there was a 
rattling of the knob. Behind him, a movement 
from the berth below the port-hole warned him that 



96 THE CENTAUR xiii 

he was but just in time. The Vision he was afraid 
as yet to acknowledge drew with such awful speed 
towards the climax. 

Quickly he turned away, lifted the hook of the 
cabin door, and passed into the passage, strangely 
faint. A great commotion followed him out : father 
and son both, it seemed, suddenly upon their feet. 
And at the same time the sound of ' singing ' rolled 
into the body of a great hushed chorus, as it were of 
galloping winds that filled big valleys far away with a 
gust of splendour, faintly roaring in some incredible 
distance where no cities were, nor habitations of men ; 
with a freedom, too, that was majestic and sublime. 
Oh 1 the terrific gait of that life in an open world ! — 
Golden to the winds ! — uncrowded ! — The cosmic 
life ! 

O'Malley shivered as he heard. For an instant, 
the true grain of his inner life, picked out in flame 
and silver, flashed clear. Almost — he knew himself 
caught back. 

And there, in the dimly-lighted corridor, against 
the panelling of the cabin wall, crouched Dr. Stahl 
— listening. The pain of the contrast was vivid 
beyond words. It seemed as if he had passed from 
the thunder of organs to hear the rattling of tin cans. 
Instantly he understood the force that all along had 
held him back : the positive, denying aspect of this 
man's mind — afraid. 

* Tou ! ' he exclaimed in a high whisper. ' What 
are you doing here ^ ' He hardly remembers what he 
said. The doctor straightened up and came on tip- 
toe to his side. He moved hurriedly. 

* Come away,' he said vehemently under his breath. 
' Come with me to my cabin — to the decks — any- 
where away from this — before it's too late.' 



XIII THE CENTAUR 97 

And the Irishman then realized that his face was 
white and that his voice shook. The hand that 
■gripped him by the arm shook too. 

They went quickly along the deserted corridor 
and up the stairs, O'Malley making no resistance, 
moving in a kind of dream. He has a fleeting recol- 
lection of an odour, sweet and slightly pungent as of 
horses, in his nostrils. The wind of the open decks 
revived him, and he saw to his amazement that the 
East was brightening. In that cabin, then, hours 
had been compressed into minutes. 

The steamer had already slipped by the Straits of 
Messina. To the right he saw the cones of Etna, 
shadowy in the sky, calling across the dawn to Strom- 
boli their smoking brother of the Lipari. To the 
left over the blue Ionian Sea the lights of a cloudless 
sunrise rose softly above the world. 

And the hour of enchantment seized and shook 
him anew. Somewhere, across those faint blue waves, 
lay the things that he so passionately sought. It 
was the very essence of their loveliness and wonder 
that had charged down between the walls of that 
stuffy cabin below. For every morning still, at 
dawn, the tired world knows again the splendours of 
her youth ; and the Irishman, shuddering a little in 
his sacred joy, felt that he must burst his bonds and 
fly to join the sunrise and the sea. The yearning, he 
was aware, had now increased a thousandfold : its 
fulfilment was merely delayed. 

He passed along the decks all slippery with dew 
into Dr. Stahl's cabin, and flung himself on the broad 
sofa to sleep. Sleep, too, came at once ; he was 
profoundly exhausted ; and, while he slept, Stahl 
watched over him, covering his body with a thick 
blanket. 

H 



XIV 

'It is a lovely imagination responding to the deepest desires, 
instincts, cravings of spiritual man, that spiritual rapture should find 
an echo in the material world ; that in mental communion with God 
we should find sensible communion with nature ; and that, when the 
faithful rejoice together, bird and beast, hill and forest, should be not 
felt only, but seen to rejoice along with them. It is not the truth ; 
between us and our environment, whatever links there are, this link 
is wanting. But the yearning for it, the passion which made Words- 
worth cry out for something, even were it the imagination of a pagan, 
which would make him "less forlorn," is natural to man ; and 
simplicity leaps at the lovely fiction of a response. Just here is the 
opportunity for such alliances between spiritualism and superstition 
as are the daily despair of seekers after truth.' — Dr. Verrall. 

And though he slept for hours the doctor never 
once left his side, but sat there with pencil and note- 
book, striving to catch, yet in vain, some accurate 
record of the strange fragmentary words that fell 
from his lips at intervals. His own face was aflame 
with an interest that amounted to excitement. The 
very hand that held the pencil trembled. One would 
have said that thus somewhat a man might behave 
who found himself faced with confirmation of some 
vast, speculative theory his mind had played with 
hitherto from a distance only. 

Towards noon the Irishman awoke. The steamer, 
still loading oranges and sacks of sulphur in the 
Catania harbour, was dusty and noisy. Most of the 
passengers were ashore, hurrying with guide-books 
and field-glasses to see the statue of the dead Bellini 

98 



XIV THE CENTAUR 99 

or watch the lava flow. A blazing, suffocating heat 
lay over the oily sea, and the summit of the volcano, 
with its tiny, ever-changing puff of smoke, soared 
through blue haze. 

To Stahl's remark, * You've slept eight hours,' he 
replied, * But I feel as though I'd slept eight centuries 
away.' He took the coffee and rolls provided, and 
then smoked. The doctor lit a cigar. The red 
curtains over the port-holes shut out the fierce sun, 
leaving the cabin cool and dim. The shouting of 
the lightermen and officers mingled with the roar and 
scuttle of the donkey-engine. And O'Malley knew 
perfectly well that while the other moved about 
carelessly, playing with books and papers on his 
desk, he was all the time keeping him under close 
observation. 

* Yes,' he continued, half to himself, ' I feel as if 
I'd fallen asleep in one world and awakened into 
another where life is trivial and insignificant, where 
men work like devils for things of no value in order 
to accumulate them in great ugly houses ; always 
collecting and collecting, like mad children, posses- 
sions that they never really possess — things external 
to themselves, valueless and unreal ' 

Dr. Stahl came up quietly and sat down beside 
him. He spoke gently, his manner kind and grave 
rather. He put a hand upon his shoulder. 

' But, my dear boy,' he said, the critical mood all 
melted away, * do not let yourself go too completely. 
That is vicious thinking, believe me. All details are 
important — here and now — spiritually important, if 
you prefer the term. The symbols change with the 
ages, that is all.' Then, as the other did not reply, 
he added : ' Keep yourself well in hand. Your 
experience is of extraordinary interest — may even be 



loo THE CENTAUR xiv 

of value, to yourself as well as to — er — others. And 
what happened to you last night is worthy of record 
— if you can use it without surrendering your soul 
to it altogether. Perhaps, later, you will feel able to 
speak of it — to tell me in detail a little — ? ' 

His keen desire to know more evidently fought 
with his desire to protect, to heal, possibly even to 
prevent. 

* If I felt sure that your control were sufficient, I 
could tell you in return some results of my own 
study of — certain cases in the hospitals, you see, that 
might throw light upon — upon your own curious 
experience.' 

O'Malley turned with such abruptness that the 
cigar ash fell down over his clothes. The bait was 
strong, but the man's sympathy was not sufficiently 
of a piece, he felt, to win his entire confidence. 

' I cannot discuss beliefs,* he said shortly, * in the 
speculative way you do. They are too real. A man 
doesn't argue about his love, does he ? ' He spoke 
passionately. * To-day everybody argues, discusses, 
speculates : no one believes. If you had your way, 
you'd take away my beliefs and put in their place 
some wretched little formula of science that the next 
generation will prove all wrong again. It's like the 
N rays one of you discovered : they never really 
existed at all.' He laughed. Then his flushed face 
turned grave again. * Beliefs are deeper than dis- 
coveries. They are eternal.' 

Stahl looked at him a moment with admiration. 
He moved across the cabin towards his desk. 

* I am more with you than perhaps you under- 
stand,' he said quietly, yet without too obviously 
humouring him. * I am more — divided, that's all.' 

' Modern ! ' exclaimed the other, noticing the 



XIV 



THE CENTAUR loi 



ashes on his coat for the first time and brushing them 
off impatiently. ' Everything in you expresses itself 
in terms of matter, forgetting that matter being in 
continual state of flux is the least real of all things ' 

* Our training has been difFerent,' observed Stahl 
simply, interrupting him. 'I use another phraseology. 
Fundamentally, we are not so far apart as you think. 
Our conversation of yesterday proves it, if you have 
not forgotten. It is people like yourself who supply 
the material that teaches people like me — helps me 
to advance — to speculate, though you dislike the term.' 

The Irishman was mollified, though for some 
time he continued in the same strain. And the 
doctor let him talk, realizing that his emotion needed 
the relief of this safety-valve. He used words 
loosely, but Stahl did not check him ; it was merely 
that the effort to express himself — this self that 
could believe so much — found difficulty in doing so 
coherently in modern language. He went very far. 
For the fact that while Stahl criticized and denied, 
he yet understood, was a strong incentive to talk. 
O'Malley plunged repeatedly over his depth, and 
each time the doctor helped him in to shore. 

* Perhaps, ' said Stahl at length in a pause, ' the 
greatest difi^erence between us is merely that whereas 
you jump headlong, ignoring details by the way, I 
climb slowly, counting the steps and making them 
secure. I deny at first because if the steps survive 
such denial, I know that they are permanent. I 
build scaffolding. You fly.' 

' Flight is quicker,' put in the Irishman. 

* It is for the few,' was the reply ; * scaffolding is 
for all.' 

' You spoke a few days ago of strange things,' 
O'Malley said presently with abruptness, 'and spoke 



I02 THE CENTAUR xiv 

seriously too. Tell me more about that, if you will.' 
He sought to lead the talk away from himself, since 
he did not intend to be fully drawn. ' You said 
something about the theory that the Earth is alive, a 
living being, and that the early legendary forms of 
life may have been emanations — projections of herself 
— detached portions of her consciousness — or some- 
thing of the sort. Tell me about that theory. Can 
there be really men who are thus children of the 
earth, fruit of pure passion — Cosmic Beings as you 
hinted .? It interests me deeply.' 

Dr. Stahl appeared to hesitate. 

' It is not new to me, of course,' pursued the 
other, ' but I should like to know more.' 

Stahl still seemed irresolute. * It is true,' he 
replied at length slowly, ' that in an unguarded 
moment I let drop certain observations. It is better 
you should consider them unsaid perhaps : forget 
them.' 

* And why, pray .? ' 

The answer was well calculated to whet his appetite. 

' Because,' answered the doctor, bending over to 
him as he crossed over to his side, * they are danger- 
ous thoughts to play with, dangerous to the interests 
of humanity in its present state to-day, unsettling 
to the soul, shaking the foundations of sane conscious- 
ness.' He looked hard at him. ' Your own mind,' 
he added softly, * appears to me to be already on 
their track. Whether you are aware of it or not, 
you have in you that kind of very passionate desire 
— of yearning — which might reconstruct them and 
make them come true — for yourself — if you get out.' 

O'Malley, his eyes shining, looked up into his face. 

' " Reconstruct — make them come true — if I get 
out " I ' he repeated stammeringly, fearful that if he 



XIV THE CENTAUR 103 

appeared too eager the other would stop. * You 
mean, of course, that this Double in me would escape 
and build its own heaven ? ' 

Stahl nodded darkly. ' Driven forth by your 
intense desire.' After a pause he added, ' The process 
already begun in you would complete itself.* 

Ah ! So obviously what the doctor wanted was a 
description of his sensations in that haunted cabin. 

* Temporarily ? ' asked the Irishman under his 
breath. 

The other did not answer for a moment. 
O'Malley repeated the question. 

* Temporarily,' said Stahl, turning away again 
towards his desk, ' unless — the yearning were too 
strong.' 

* In which case .? ' 

' Permanently. For it would draw the entire 
personality with it. . . .' 

* The soul ? ' 

Stahl was bending over his books and papers. 
The answer was barely audible. 

' Death,' was the whispered word that floated 
across the heavy air of that little sun-baked cabin. 

The word if spoken at all was so softly spoken 
that the Irishman scarcely knew whether he actually 
heard it, or whether it was uttered by his own 
thought. He only realized — catching some vivid 
current from the other man's mind — that this separa- 
tion of a vital portion of himself that Stahl hinted at 
might involve a kind of nameless inner catastrophe 
which should mean the loss of his personality as it 
existed to-day — an idea, however, that held no terror 
for him if it meant at the same time the recovery of 
what he so passionately sought. 

And another intuition flashed upon its heels — 



I04 THE CENTAUR xiv 

namely, that this extraordinary doctor spoke of 
something he knew as a certainty ; that his amazing 
belief, though paraded as theory, was to him more 
than theory. Had he himself undergone some 
experience that he dared not speak of, and were his 
words based upon a personal experience instead of, 
as he pretended, merely upon the observation of 
others ? Was this a result of his study of the big 
man two years ago ? Was this the true explanation 

of his being no longer an assistant at the H 

hospital, but only a ship's doctor ? Had this 
' modern ' man, after all, a flaming volcano of 
ancient and splendid belief in him, akin to what was 
in himself, yet ever fighting it ? 

Thoughts raced and thundered through his mind 
as he watched him across the cigar smoke. The 
rattling of that donkey-engine, the shouts of the 
lightermen, the thuds of the sulphur-sacks — how 
ridiculous they all sounded, the clatter of a futile, 
meaningless existence where men gathered — rubbish, 
for mere bodies that lived amid dust a few years, 
then returned to dust for ever. 

He sprang from his sofa and crossed over to the 
doctor's side. Stahl was still bending over a littered 
desk. 

* You, too,' he cried, and though trying to say it 
loud, his voice could only whisper, ' you, too, must 
have the Urmensch in your heart and blood, for 
how else, by my soul, could you know it all } Tell 
me, doctor, tell me ! ' And he was on the very 
verge of adding, * Join us ! Come and join us ! ' 
when the little German turned his bald head slowly 
round and fixed upon the excited Irishman such a 
cool and quenching stare that instantly he felt himself 
convicted of foolishness, almost of impertinence. 



XIV THE CENTAUR 105 

He dropped backwards into an arm-chair, and the 
doctor at the same moment let himself down upon 
the revolving stool that was nailed to the floor in 
front of the desk. His hands smoothed out papers. 
Then he leaned forward, still holding his companion's 
eyes with that steady stare which forbade familiarity. 

* My friend,' he said quietly in German, ' you 
asked me just now to tell you of the theory — 
Fechner's theory — that the Earth is a living, conscious 
Being. If you care to listen, I will do so. We have 
time.' He glanced round at the shady cabin, took 
down a book from the shelf before him, puffed his 
black cigar and began to read. 

* It is from one of your own people — William 
James ; what you call a " Hibbert Lecture " at 
Manchester College. It gives you an idea, at least, 
of what Fechner saw. It is better than my own 
words.' 

So Stahl, in his turn, refused to be ' drawn.' 
O'Malley, as soon as he recovered from the abrupt- 
ness of the change from that other conversation, 
gave all his attention. The uneasy feeling that he 
was being played with, coaxed as a specimen to the 
best possible point for the microscope, passed away 
as the splendour of the vast and beautiful concep- 
tion dawned upon him, and shaped those nameless 
yearnings of his life in glowing language. 



XV 

The shadows of the September afternoon were 
lengthening towards us from the Round Pond by 
the time O'Malley reached this stage of his curious 
and fascinating story. It was chilly under the trees, 
and the ' wupsey-up, wupsey-down ' babies, as he 
termed them, had long since gone in to their teas, or 
whatever it is that London babies take at six o'clock. 

We strolled home together, and he welcomed the 
idea of sharing a dinner we should cook ourselves in 
the tiny Knightsbridge flat. ' Stew-pot evenings,' 
he called these occasions. They reminded us of 
camping trips together, although it must be confessed 
that in the cage-like room the ' stew ' never tasted 
quite as it did beside running water on the skirts of 
the forest when the dews were gathering on the little 
gleaming tent, and the wood-smoke mingled with 
the scents of earth and leaves. 

Passing that grotesque erection opposite the 
Albert Hall, gaudy in the last touch of sunset, I 
saw him shudder. The spell of the ship and sea and 
that blazing Sicilian sunshine lay still upon us, Etna's 
cones towering beyond those gilded spikes of the 
tawdry Memorial. I stole a glance at my companion. 
His light blue eyes shone, but with the reflection of 
another sunset — the sunset of forgotten, ancient, 
far-off scenes when the world was young. 

1 06 



XV THE CENTAUR 107 

His personality held something of magic in that 
silent stroll homewards, for no word fell from either 
one of us to break its charm. The untidy hair 
escaped from beneath the broad-brimmed old hat, 
and his faded coat of grey flannel seemed touched 
with the shadows that the dusk brings beneath wild- 
olive trees. I noticed the set of his ears, and how 
the upper points of them ran so sharply into the 
hair. His walk was springy, light, very quiet, 
suggesting that he moved on open turf where a sudden 
running jump would land him, not into a motor-bus, 
but into a mossy covert where ferns grew. There 
was a certain fling of the shoulders that had an air of 
rejecting streets and houses. Some fancy, wild and 
sweet, caught me of a faun passing down through 
underbrush of woodland glades to drink at a forest 
pool ; and, chance giving back to me a little verse 
of Alice Corbin's, I turned and murmured it while 
watching him : 

What dim Arcadian pastures 

Have I known, 
That suddenly, out of nothing, 

A wind is blown, 
Lifting a veil and a darkness, 

Showing a purple sea — 
And under your hair, the faun's eyes 

Look out on mc ? 

It was, of course, that whereas his body marched 
along Hill Street and through Montpelier Square, his 
thoughts and spirit flitted through the haunted, old- 
time garden he for ever craved. I thought of the 
morrow — of my desk in the Life Insurance Ofiice, 
of the clerks with oiled hair brushed back from the 
forehead, all exactly alike, trousers neatly turned up 
to show fancy coloured socks from bargain sales, 



io8 THE CENTAUR xv 

their pockets full of cheap cigarettes, their minds 
busy with painted actresses and the names of 
horses ! A Life Insurance Office ! All London 
paying yearly sums to protect themselves against — 
against the most interesting moment of life. 
Premiums upon escape and freedom ! 

Again, it was the spell of my companion's 
personality that turned all this paraphernalia of the 
busy, modern existence into the counters in some 
grotesque and rather sordid game. To-morrow, of 
course, it would all turn real and earnest again, 
O'Malley's story a mere poetic fancy. But for the 
moment I lived it with him, and found it 
magnificent. 

And the talk we had that evening when the stew- 
pot was empty and we were smoking on the narrow- 
ledged roof of the prison-house — for he always 
begged for open air, and with cushions we often sat 
beneath the stars and against the grimy chimney-pots 
— that talk I shall never forget. Life became con- 
structed all anew. The power of the greatest fairy 
tale this world can ever know lay about me, raised to 
its highest expression. I caught at least some touch 
of reality — of awful reality — in the idea that this 
splendid globe whereon we perched like insects peep- 
ing timidly from tiny cells, might be the body of a 
glorious Being — the mighty frame to which some 
immense Collective Consciousness, vaster than that of 
men, and wholly different in kind, might be attached. 

In the story, as I found it later in the dusty little 
Paddington room, O'Malley reported, somewhat 
heavily, it seemed to me, the excerpts chosen by Dr. 
Stahl. As an imaginative essay, they were interesting, 
of course, and vitally suggestive, but in a tale of 
adventure such as this they overweight the barque of 



XV THE CENTAUR 109 

fancy. Yet, in order to appreciate what followed, it 
seems necessary for the mind to steep itself in some- 
thing of his ideas. The reader who dreads to think, 
and likes his imagination to soar unsupported, may 
perhaps dispense with the balance of this section ; 
but to be faithful to the scaffolding whereon this 
Irishman built his amazing dream, I must attempt as 
best I can some precis of that conversation. 



XVI 

* Every fragment of visible Nature might, as far as is known, serve 
as part in some organism unlike our bodies. ... As to that which 
can, and that which cannot, play the part of an organism, we know 
very little. A sameness greater or less with our own bodies is the 
basis from which we conclude to other bodies and souls. ... A certain 
likeness of outward form, and again some amount of similarity in 
action, are what we stand on when we argue to psychical life. But 
our failure, on the other side, to discover these symptoms is no sufficient 
warrant for positive denial. It is natural in this connection to refer 
to Fechner's vigorous advocacy.' — F. H- Bradley, Appearance and 
Reality. 

It was with an innate resistance — at least a stubborn 
prejudice — that I heard him begin. The earth, of 
course, was but a bubble of dried fire, a huge round 
clod, dead as mutton. How could it be, in any 
permissible sense of the word — alive .? 

Then, gradually, as he talked there among the 
chimney-pots of old smoky London, there stole over 
me this new and disquieting sense of reality — a strange, 
vast splendour, too mighty to lie in the mind with 
comfort. Laughter fled away, ashamed. A new 
beauty, as of some amazing dawn, flashed and 
broke upon the world. The autumn sky overhead, 
thick-sown with its myriad stars, came down close, 
sifting gold and fire about my life's dull ways. That 
desk in the Insurance Ofiice of Cornhill gleamed 
beyond as an altar or a possible throne. 

The glory of Fechner's immense speculation flamed 
no 



XVI 



THE CENTAUR iii 



about us both, majestic yet divinely simple. Only 
a dim suggestion of it, of course, lay caught in the 
words the Irishman used — words, as I found later, 
that were a mixture of Professor James and Dr. Stahl, 
flavoured strongly with Terence O'Malley — but a 
suggestion potent enough to have haunted me ever 
since and to have instilled meanings of stupendous 
divinity into all the commonest things of daily exist- 
ence. Mountains, seas, wide landscapes, forests, — all 
I see now with emotions of wonder, delight, and awe 
unknown to me before. Flowers, rain, wind, even a 
London fog, have come to hold new meanings. 

I never realized before that the mere size of our 
old planet could have hindered the perception of so 
fair a vision, or that her mere quantitative bulk have 
killed automatically in the mind the possible idea of 
her being in some sense living. A microbe, endowed 
with our powers of consciousness, might similarly 
deny life to the body of the elephant on which it 
rode ; or some wee arguing atom, endowed with 
mind and senses, persuade itself that the monster 
upon whose flesh it dwelt were similarly a * heavenly 
body ' of dead, inert matter ; the bulk of the ' world ' 
that carried them obstructing their perception of its 
Life. 

And Fechner, as it seems, was no mere dreamer, 
playing with a huge poetical conception. Professor 
of Physics in Leipzig University, he found time amid 
voluminous labours in chemistry to study electrical 
science with the result that his measurements in 
galvanism are classic to this day. His philosophical 
work was more than considerable. ' A book on the 
atomic theory, classic also ; four elaborate mathe- 
matical and experimental volumes on what he called 
psychophysics (many persons consider Fechner to 



112 THE CENTAUR xvi 

have practically founded scientific psychology in the 
first of these books) ; a volume on organic evolution, 
and two works on experimental aesthetics, in which 
again Fechner is thought by some judges to have 
laid the foundations of a new science,' are among his 
other performances. ... * All Leipsic mourned him 
when he died, for he was the pattern of the ideal 
German scholar, as daringly original in his thought 
as he was homely in his life, a modest, genial, 
laborious slave to truth and learning. . . . His mind 
was indeed one of those multitudinously organized 
cross-roads of truth which are occupied only at rare 
intervals by children of men, and from which nothing 
is either too far or too near to be seen in due per- 
spective. Patientest observation, exactest mathe- 
matics, shrewdest discrimination, humanest feeling, 
flourished in him on the largest scale, with no ap- 
parent detriment to one another. He was in fact a 
philosopher in the " great " sense.' ^ 

' Yes,' said O'Malley softly in my ear as we 
leaned against the chimneys and watched the tobacco 
curl up to the stars, ' and it was this man's imagina- 
tion that had evidently caught old Stahl and bowled 
him over. I never fathomed the doctor quite. His 
critical and imaginative apparatus got a bit mixed 
up, I suspect, for one moment he cursed me for 
asking " suspicious questions," and the next sneered 
sarcastically at me for boiling over with a sudden 
inspirational fancy of my own. He never gave 
himself away completely, and left me to guess that 
he made that Hospital place too hot to hold him. 
He was a wonderful bird. But every time I aimed 
at him I shot wide and hit a cloud. Meantime he 
peppered me all over — one minute urging me into 

* Professor William James, A Pluralistic Universe. 



I 



XVI THE CENTAUR 113 

closer intimacy with my Russian — his cosmic being, 
his Urmensch type — so that he might study my 
destruction, and half an hour later doing his utmost 
apparently to protect me from him and keep me sane 
and balanced.' His laugh rang out over the roofs. 

' The net result,' he added, his face tilted towards 
the stars as though he said it to the open sky rather 
than to me, ' was that he pushed me forwards into 
the greatest adventure life has ever brought to me. 
1 believe, I verily believe that sometimes, there were 
moments of unconsciousness — semi-consciousness 
perhaps — when I really did leave my body — caught 
away as Moses, or was it Job or Paul ? — into a Third 
Heaven, where I touched a bit of Reality that fairly 
made me reel with happiness and wonder.* 

'Well, but Fechner — and his great idea.?' I 
brought him back. 

He tossed his cigarette down into the back-garden 
that fringed the Park, leaning over to watch its zig- 
zag flight of flame. 

' Is simply this,' he replied, ' — " that not alone the 
earth but the whole Universe in its difl?erent spans 
and wave-lengths, is everywhere alive and conscious." 
He regards the spiritual as the rule in Nature, not 
the exception. The professorial philosophers have 
no vision. Fechner towers above them as a man of 
vision. He dared to imagine. He made discoveries 
— whew ! ! ' he whistled, ' and such discoveries ! ' 

' To which the scholars and professors of to-day,' 
I suggested, ' would think reply not even called for .f*' 

' Ah,' he laughed, ' the solemn-faced Intellectuals 
with their narrow outlook, their atrophied vision, 
and their long words 1 Perhaps ! But in Fechner's 
universe there is room for every grade of spiritual 
being between man and God. The vaster orders of 

I 



114 THE CENTAUR xvi 

mind go with the vaster orders of body. He believes 
passionately in the Earth Soul, he treats her as our 
special guardian angel ; we can pray to the Earth as 
men pray to their saints. The Earth has a Collective 
Consciousness. We rise upon the Earth as wavelets 
rise upon the ocean. We grow out of her soil as 
leaves grow from a tree. Sometimes we find our bigger 
life and realize that we are parts of her bigger col- 
lective consciousness, but as a rule we are aware only 
of our separateness, as individuals. These moments 
of cosmic consciousness are rare. They come with 
love, sometimes with pain, music may bring them 
too, but above all — landscape and the beauty of 
Nature ! Men are too petty, conceited, egoistic to 
welcome them, clinging for dear life to their precious 
individualities.' 

He drew breath and then went on : * " Fechner 
likens our individual persons on the earth to so many 
sense-organs of her soul, adding to her perceptive 
life so long as our own life lasts. She absorbs our 
perceptions, just as they occur, into her larger sphere 
of knowledge. When one of us dies, it is as if an eye 
of the world were closed, for all perceptive contri- 
butions from that particular quarter cease." ' ^ 

' Go on,' I exclaimed, realizing that he was ob- 
viously quoting verbatim fragments from James that 
he had since pondered over till they had become his 
own. ' Tell me more. It is delightful and very 
splendid.' 

' Yes,' he said, ' I'll go on quick enough, provided 
you promise me one thing : and that is — to under- 
stand that Fechner does not regard the Earth as a 
sort of big human being. If a being at all, she is a 
being utterly different from us in kind, as of course 

1 Professor William James, A Pluralistic Universe. 



XVI THE CENTAUR 115 

we know she is in structure. Planetary beings, as a 
class, would be totally different from any other beings 
that we know. He merely protests at the presump- 
tion of our insignificant human knowledge in denying 
some kind of life and consciousness to a form so 
beautifully and marvellously organized as that of the 
earth ! The heavenly bodies, he holds, are beings 
superior to men in the scale of life — a vaster order 
of intelligence altogether. A little two-legged man 
with his cocksure reason strutting on its tiny brain 
as the apex of attainment he ridicules. D'ye see, 
now?' 

I gasped. I lit a big pipe — and listened. He 
went on. This time it was clearly a page from that 
Hibbert Lecture Stahl had mentioned — the one in 
which Professor James tries to give some idea of 
Fechner's aim and scope, while admitting that he 
' inevitably does him miserable injustice by summar- 
izing and abridging him.' 

' Ages ago the earth was called an animal,' I 
ventured. ' We all know that.' 

' But Fechner,' he replied, ' insists that a planet is 
a higher class of being than either man or animal — " a 
being whose enormous size requires an altogether 
different plan of life." ' 

* An inhabitant of the ether — ? ' 

' You've hit it,' he replied eagerly. ' Every 
element has its own living denizens. Ether, then, 
also has hers — the globes. "The ocean of ether, 
whose waves are light, has also her denizens — higher 
by as much as their element is higher, swimming 
without fins, flying without wings, moving, immense 
and tranquil, as by a half-spiritual force through the 
half-spiritual sea which they inhabit," ^ sensitive to the 

* Professor William James, A Pluralistic Uni-verse. 



ii6 THE CENTAUR xvi 

slightest pull of one another's attraction : beings in 
every way superior to us. Any imagination, you 
know,' he added, * can play with the idea. It is 
old as the hills. But this chap showed how and why 
it could be actually true.' 

' This superiority, though .? ' I queried. ' I should 
have guessed their stage of development lower than 
ours, rather than higher.' 

* Different,' he answered, ' different. That's the 
point.' 

* Ah ! ' I watched a shooting star dive across our 
thick, wet atmosphere, and caught myself wondering 
whether the flash and heat of that hurrying little 
visitor produced any reaction in this Collective 
Consciousness of the huge Body whereon we perched 
and chattered, and upon which later it would fall in 
finest dust. 

' It is by insisting on the differences as well as on 
the resemblances,' rushed on the excited O'Malley, 
*that he makes the picture of the earth's life so 
concrete. Think a moment. For instance, our 
animal organization comes from our inferiority. Our 
need of moving to and fro, of stretching our limbs 
and bending our bodies, shows only our defect.' 

* Defect ! ' I cried. * But we're so proud of it I * 

* "What are our legs,' " he laughed, ' "but crutches, 
by means of which, with restless efforts, we go 
hunting after the things we have not inside ourselves ^ 
The Earth is no such cripple ; why should she who 
already possesses within herself the things we so 
painfully pursue, have limbs analogous to ours ? 
What need has she of arms, with nothing to reach 
for ? Of a neck with no head to carry .? Of eyes or 
nose, when she finds her way through space without 
either, and has the millions of eyes of all her animals 



XVI THE CENTAUR 117 

to guide their movements on her surface, and all their 
noses to smell the flowers she grows ? " ' ^ 

' We are literally a part of her, then — projections 
of her immense life, as it were — one of the projections, 
at least ? ' 

' Exactly. And just as we are ourselves a part of 
the earth,' he continued, taking up my thought at 
once, ' so are our organs her organs. " She is, as 
it were, eye and ear over her whole extent — all that 
we see and hear in separation she sees and hears at 
once." ' ^ He stood up beside me and spread his 
hands out to the stars and over the trees and paths 
of the Park at our feet, where the throngs of men and 
women walked and talked together in the cool of the 
evening. His enthusiasm grew as the idea of this 
German's towering imagination possessed him. 

' " She brings forth living beings of countless 
kinds upon her surface, and their multitudinous 
conscious relations with each other she takes up into 
her higher and more general conscious life." ' ^ 

He leaned over the parapet and drew me to his 
side. I stared with him at the reflection of London 
town in the sky, thinking of the glow and heat and 
restless stir of the great city and of the frantic 
strivings of its millions for success — money, power, 
fame, a few, here and there, for spiritual success. 
The roar of its huge trafficking beat across the night 
in ugly thunder to our ears. I thought of the other 
cities of the world ; of its villages ; of shepherds 
among the lonely hills ; of its myriad wild creatures 
in forest, plain, and mountain. . . . 

' All this she takes up into her great heart as part 
of herself! ' I murmured. 

* All this,' he replied softly, as the sound of the 

* Professor William James, A Pluralistic Universe. 



ii8 THE CENTAUR xvi 

Band beyond the Serpentine floated over to us on 
our roof; ' — the separate little consciousnesses of 
all the cities, all the tribes, all the nations of men, 
animals, flowers, insects — everything.' He again 
opened his arms to the sky. He drew in deep breaths 
of the night air. The dew glistened on the slates 
behind us. Far across the towers of Westminster a 
yellow moon rose slowly, dimming the stars. Big 
Ben, deeply booming, trembled on the air nine of 
her stupendous vibrations. Automatically, I counted 
them — subconsciously. 

' And all our subconscious sensations are also 
hers,' he added, catching my thought again ; * our 
dreams but half divined, our aspirations half confessed, 
our tears, our yearnings, and our — prayers.' 

At the moment it almost seemed to me as if our 
two minds joined, each knowing the currents of the 
other's thought, and both caught up, gathered in, 
folded comfortably away into the stream of a Con- 
sciousness far bigger than either. It was like a 
momentary, specific proof of what he urged — a faint 
pulse-beat we heard of the soul of the earth ; and it 
was amazingly uplifting. 

' Every form of life, then, is of importance,' I 
heard myself thinking, or saying, for I hardly knew 
which. ' The tiniest efforts of value — even the 
unrecognized ones, and those that seem futile.' 

* Even the failures,' he whispered, ' — the 
moments when we do not trust her.' 

We stood for some moments in silence. Presently, 
with a hand upon my shoulder, he drew me down 
again among our rugs against the chimney-stack. 

* And there are some of us,' he said gently, yet 
with a voice that held the trembling of an immense 
joy, 'who know a more intimate relationship with 



XVI THE CENTAUR 119 

their great Mother than the rest, perhaps. By the 
so-called Love of Nature, or by some artless simplicity 
of soul, wholly unmodern of course, perhaps felt by 
children or poets mostly, they lie caught close to her 
own deep life, knowing the immense sweet guidance 
of her mighty soul, divinely mothered, strangers to 
all the strife for material gain — to that " unrest which 
men miscall delight," — primitive children of her 
potent youth . . . offspring of pure passion . . . 
each individual conscious of her weight and drive 

behind him ' His words faded away into a whisper 

that became unintelligible, then inaudible ; but his 
thought somehow continued itself in my own mind. 

' The simple life,' I said in a low tone ; * the Call 
of the Wild, raised to its highest power .? * 

But he changed my sentence a little. 

' The call,' he answered, without turning to look 
at me, speaking it into the night about us, ' the call 
to childhood, the true, pure, vital childhood of the 
Earth — the Golden Age — before men tasted of the 
Tree and knew themselves separate ; when the lion 
and the lamb lay down together and a little child 
could lead them. A time and state, that is, of which 
such phrases can be symbolical.' 

' And of which there may be here and there some 
fearful exquisite survival ? ' I suggested, remembering 
Stahl's words. 

His eyes shone with the fire of his passion. * Of 
which on that little tourist steamer I found one ! ' 

The wind that fanned our faces came perhaps across 
the arid wastes of Bays water and the North- West. 
It also came from the mountains and gardens of this 
lost Arcadia, vanished for most beyond recovery. . . . 

* The Hebrew poets called it Before the Fall,' he 
went on, ' and later poets the Golden Age ; to-day 



I20 THE CENTAUR xvi 

it shines through phrases like the Land of Heart's 
Desire, the Promised Land, Paradise, and what not ; 
while the mind of saint and mystic have ever dreamed 
of it as union with their deity. For it is possible 
and open to all, to every heart, that is, not blinded 
by the cloaking horror of materialism which blocks 
the doorways of escape and prisons self behind the 
drab illusion that the outer form is the reality and. 
not the inner thought. . . .' 

The hoarse shouting of a couple of drunken 
men floated to us from the pavements, and crossing 
over, we peered down towards the opening of Sloane 
Street, watching a moment the stream of broughams, 
motors, and pedestrians. The two men with the 
rage of an artificial stimulant in their brains reeled 
out of sight. A big policeman followed slowly. 
The night-life of the great glaring city poured on 
unceasingly — the streamof souls all hurrying by divers 
routes and means towards a state where they sought 
to lose themselves — to forget the pressure of the 
bars that held them — to escape the fret and worry 
of their harassing personalities, and touch some fringe 
of happiness ! All so sure they knew the way — yet 
hurrying really in the wrong direction — outwards 
instead of inwards ; afraid to be — simple. . . . 

We moved back to our rugs. For a long time 
neither of us found anything to say. Soon I led the 
way down the creaking ladder indoors again, and 
we entered the stuffy little sitting-room of the tiny 
flat he temporarily occupied. I turned up an electric 
light, but O'Malley begged me to lower it. 1 only 
had time to see that his eyes were still aglow. We 
sat by the open window. He drew a worn note- 
book from his still more worn coat ; but it was too 
dark for him to read. He knew it all by heart. 



XVII 

Some of Fechner's reasons for thinking the Earth 
a being superior in the scale to ourselves, he gave,^ 
but it was another passage that lingered chiefly in 
my heart, the description of the daring German's 
joy in dwelling upon her perfections — later, too, of 

* ' What are the marks of superiority . . . ? Fechner points out 
that the earth possesses each ana all of them more perfectly than we. 
He considers in detail the points of difference between us, and shows 
them all to make for the Earth's higher rank. . . . 

' One of them, of course, is independence of other external beings. 
External to the earth are only the other heavenly bodies. All the 
things on which we externally depend for life — air, water, plant and 
animal food, fellow-men, etc. — are included in her as her constituent 
parts. She is self-sufficing in a million respects in which we are not 
so. We depend on her for almost everything, she on us for but a 
small portion of her history. She swings us in her orbit from winter 
to summer and revolves us from day into night and night into day. 

' Complexity in unity is another sign of superiority. The total 
earth's complexity far exceeds that of any organism, for she includes 
all our organisms in herself, along with an infinite number of things 
that our organisms fail to include. Yet how simple and massive are 
the phases of her own proper life ! As the total bearing of any 
animal is sedate and tranquil compared with the agitation of its blood 
corpuscles, so is the earth a sedate and tranquil being compared with 
the animals whom she supports. 

* To develop from within, instead of being fashioned from without, 
is also counted as something superior in men's eyes. An egg is a 
higher style of being than a piece of clay which an external modeller 
makes into the image of a oird. The earth's history develops from 
within. . . . 

'Individuality of type, and difference from other beings of its type, 
is another mark of rank. The Earth differs from every other planet, 
and as a class planetary beings are extraordinarily distinct from other 
beings.' — William James, A Pluralistic Uni'verse. 

121 



122 THE CENTAUR xvii 

his first simple vision. Though myself wholly of 
the earth, earthy in the ordinary sense, the beauty of 
the thoughts live in my spirit to this day, transfiguring 
even that dingy Insurance Office, streaming through 
all my dullest, hardest daily tasks with the inspiration 
of a simple delight that helps me over many a difficult 
weary time of work and duty. 

' " To carry her precious freight through the hours 
and seasons what form could be more excellent than 
hers — being as it is horse, wheels, and waggon all in 
one. Think of her beauty — a shining ball, sky-blue 
and sunlit over one half, the other bathed in starry 
night, reflecting the heavens from all her waters, 
myriads of lights and shadows in the folds of her 
mountains and windings of her valleys she would be 
a spectacle of rainbow glory, could one only see her 
from afar as we see parts of her from her own 
mountain tops. Every quality of landscape that has 
a name would then be visible in her all at once — all 
that is delicate or graceful, all that is quiet, or wild, 
or romantic, or desolate, or cheerful, or luxuriant, or 
fresh. That landscape is her face — a peopled land- 
scape, too, for men's eyes would appear in it like 
diamonds among the dew-drops. Green would be 
the dominant colour, but the blue atmosphere and the 
clouds would enfold her as a bride is shrouded in 
her veil — a veil the vapory, transparent folds of 
which the earth, through her ministers the winds, 
never tires of laying and folding about herself anew." 

* She needs, as a sentient organism,' he continued, 
pointing into the curtain of blue night beyond the 
window, ' no heart or brain or lungs as we do, for 
she is — different. " Their functions she performs 
through us ! She has no proper muscles or limbs of 
her own, and the only objects external to her arc 



XVII THE CENTAUR 123 

the other stars. To these her whole mass reacts by 
the most exquisite alterations in its total gait 
and by the still more exquisite vibratory responses 
in its substance. Her ocean reflects the lights of 
heaven as in a mighty mirror, her atmosphere refracts 
them like a monstrous lens, the clouds and snow-fields 
combine them into white, the woods and flowers 
disperse them into colours. . . . Men have always 
made fables about angels, dwelling in the light, 
needing no earthly food or drink, messengers between 
ourselves and God. Here are actually existent 
beings, dwelling in the light and moving through the 
sky, needing neither food nor drink, intermediaries 
between God and us, obeying His commands. So, 
if the heavens really are the home of angels, the 
heavenly bodies must be those very angels, for other 
creatures there are none. Yes ! the Earth is our 
great common guardian angel, who watches over all 
our interests combined." ' 

' And then,' whispered the Irishman, seeing that I 
still eagerly listened, ' give your ear to one of his 
moments of direct vision. Note its simplicity, and 
the authority of its conviction : 

' " On a certain spring morning I went out to walk. 
The fields were green, the birds sang, the dew 
glistened, the smoke was rising, here and there a 
man appeared ; a light as of transfiguration lay on 
all things. It was only a little bit of the earth ; it 
was only a moment of her existence ; and yet as my 
look embraced her more and more it seemed to me 
not only so beautiful an idea, but so true and clear 
a fact, that she is an angel, an angel so rich and 
fresh and flower-like, and yet going her round in 
the skies so firmly and so at one with herself, turning 
her whole living face to Heaven, and carrying me 



124 THE CENTAUR xvii 

along with her into that Heaven, that I asked myself 
how the opinions of men could ever have so spun 
themselves away from life as to deem the earth only 
a dry clod, and to seek for angels above it or about 
it in the emptiness of the sky, — only to find them 
nowhere." ' 

Fire-engines, clanging as with a hurrying anger 
through the night, broke in upon his impassioned 
sentences ; the shouts of the men drowned his 
last words. . . . 

Life became very wonderful inside those tight, 
confining walls, for the spell and grandeur of the 
whole conception lifted the heart. Even if belief 
failed, in the sense of believing — a shilling, it suc- 
ceeded in the sense of believing — a symphony. The 
invading beauty swept about us both. Here was 
a glory that was also a driving power upon which 
any but a man half dead could draw for practical use. 
For the big conceptions fan the will. The little 
pains of life, they make one feel, need not kill true 
joy, nor deaden effort. 

* Come,' said O'Malley softly, interrupting my 
dream of hope and splendour, ' let us walk together 
through the Park to your place. It is late, and you, 
I know, have to be up early in the morning . . . 
earlier than I.' 

And presendy we passed the statue of Achilles 
and got our feet upon the turf beyond — a little bit 
of living planet in the middle of the heavy smother- 
ing London town. About us, over us, within us, 
stirred the awe of that immense idea. Upon that bit 
of living, growing turf we passed towards the Marble 
Arch, treading, as it were, the skin of a huge Body — 
the physical expression of a grand angelic Being, 
alive, sentient, conscious. Conscious, moreover, of 



XVII THE CENTAUR 125 

our little separate individual selves who walked . . . 
a Being who cared ; who felt us ; who knew, under- 
stood, and — loved us as a mother her own offspring. 
. . . 'To whom men could pray as they pray to 
their saints.' 

The conception, even thus dimly and confusedly 
adumbrated, brought a new sense of life — terrific and 
eternal. All living things upon the earth's surface 
were emanations of her mighty central soul ; all — 
from the gods and fairies of olden time who knew it, 
to the men and women of To-day who have forgotten 
it. 

The gods ! 

Were these then projections of her personality — 
aspects and facets of her divided self — emanations 
now withdrawn.-* Latent in her did they still exist 
as moods or Powers — true, alive, everlasting, but 
unmanifest .? Still knowable to simple men and to 
Children of Nature } 

Was this the giant truth that Stahl had built on 
Fechner ? 

Everything about us seemed to draw together 
into an immense and towering configuration that 
included trees and air and the sweep of open park — 
the looming and overwhelming beauty of one of these 
very gods survived — Pan, the eternal and the 
splendid ... a mood of the Earth-life, a projection 
clothed with the light of stars, the cloudy air, the 
passion of the night, the thrill of an august, extended 
Mood. 

And the others were not so very behind — those 
other little parcels of Earth's Consciousness the 
Greeks and early races, the simple, primitive, child- 
like peoples of the dawn divined the existence of, and 
labelled ' gods ' . . . and worshipped ... so as to 



126 THE CENTAUR xvii 

draw their powers into themselves by ecstasy and 
vision . . . ? 

Could, then, worship now still recall them ? Was 
the attitude of even one true worshipper's heart the 
force necessary to touch that particular aspect of the 
mighty total Consciousness of Earth, and call forth 
those ancient forms of beauty ? Could it be that 
this idea — the idea of ' the gods ' — was thus for ever 
true and vital . . . ? And might they be known 
and felt in the heart if not actually in some suggested 
form ? 

I only know that as we walked home past the doors 
of that dingy Paddington house where Terence 
O'Malley kept his dusty books and papers and so 
to my own quarters, these things he talked about 
dropped into my mind with a bewildering splendour 
to stay for ever. His words I have forgotten, or 
how he made such speculations worth listening to at 
all. Yet, I hear them singing in my blood as though 
of yesterday ; and often when that conflict comes 
'twixt duty and desire that makes life sometimes so 
vain and bitter, the memory comes to lift with 
strength far greater than my own. The Earth can 
heal and bless. 



XVIII 

Slowly, taking life easily, the little steamer pufFed 
its way across the Ionian Sea. The pyramid of Etna, 
bluer even than the sky, dominated the western 
horizon long after the heel of Italy had faded, then 
melted in its turn into the haze of cloud and distance. 
No other sails were visible. 

With the passing of Calabria spring had leaped 
into the softness of full summer, and the breezes 
were gentle as those that long ago fanned the cheeks 
and hair of lo, beloved of Zeus, as she flew south- 
wards towards the Nile. The passengers, less lovely 
than that fair daughter of Argos, and with the unrest 
of thinner adventure in their blood, basked lazily 
in the sun ; but the sea was not less haunted for 
those among them whose hearts could travel. The 
Irishman at any rate slipped beyond the confines of 
the body, viewing that ancient scene as she had done, 
from above. His widening consciousness expanded 
to include it. 

Cachalots spouted ; dolphins danced, as though 
still to those wild flutes of Dionysus ; porpoises 
rolled beneath the surface of the transparent waves, 
diving below the vessel's sides but just in time to save 
their shiny noses ; and all day long, ignoring the 
chart upon the stairway walls, the tourists turned their 
glasses eastwards, searching for a first sight of Greece. 

127 



128 THE CENTAUR xviii 

O'Malley, meanwhile, trod the decks of a new 
ship. For him now sea and sky were doubly peopled. 
The wind brought messages of some divine deliver- 
ance approaching slowly ; the heat of that pearly, 
shining sun warmed centres of his being that hitherto 
the world kept chill. The land towards which the 
busy steamer moved he knew, of course, was but the 
shell from which the inner spirit of beauty once 
vivifying it had long since passed away. Yet it 
remained a clue. That ancient loveliness, as a mood 
of the earth's early consciousness, was buried, not 
destroyed. Eternally it still flamed somewhere. 
And, long before the days of Greece, he knew, it 
had existed in yet fuller and more complete mani- 
festation : that earliest, vastly splendid Mood of the 
earth's soul, too mighty for any existence that the 
history of humanity can recall, and too remote for 
any but the most daringly imaginative minds even to 
conceive. The Urwelt Mood, as Stahl himself 
admitted, even while it called to him, was a re- 
construction that to men to-day could only seem — 
dangerous. 

And his own little Self, guided by the inarticulate 
stranger, was being led at last towards its complete 
recapture. 

Yet, while he crawled slowly with the steamer 
over a tiny portion of the spinning globe, feeling that 
at the same time he crawled towards a spot upon 
it where access would be somehow possible to this 
huge expression of her first Life — what was it, phrased 
timidly as men phrase big thoughts to-day, that he 
really believed } Even in our London talks, intimate 
as they were, interpreted too by gesture, facial ex- 
pression, and — silence, his full meaning evaded 
precise definition. * There are no words, there are 



XVIII THE CENTAUR 129 

no words,' he kept saying, shrugging his shoulders 
and stroking his untidy hair. ' In me, deep down, 
it all lies clear and plain and strong ; but language 
cannot seize a mode of life that throve before language 
existed. If you cannot catch the picture from my 
thoughts, I give up the whole dream in despair.' 
And in his written account, owing to its strange 
formlessness, the result was not a little bewildering. 

Briefly stated, however — that remnant, at least, 
which I discover in my own mind when attempting to 
tell the story to others — what he felt, believed, livedo 
at any rate while the adventure lasted, was this : — 

That the Earth, as a living, conscious Being, had 
known visible projections of her consciousness similar 
to those projections of our own personality which the 
advanced psychologists of to-day now envisage as 
possible ; that the simple savagery of his own nature, 
and the poignant yearnings derived from it, were in 
reality due to his intimate closeness to the life of the 
Earth ; that, whereas in the body the fulfilment of 
these longings was impossible, in the spirit he might yet 
know contact with the soul of the planet, and thus 
experience their complete satisfaction. Further, that 
the portion of his personality which could thus enter 
this heaven of its own subjective construction, was 
that detachable portion Stahl had spoken of as being 
' malleable by desire and longing,' leaving the body 
partially and temporarily sometimes in sleep, and, 
at death, completely. More, — that the state thus 
entered would mean a quasi-merging back into the 
life of the Earth herself, of which he was a partial 
expression. 

This closeness to Nature was to-day so rare as to 
be almost unrecognized as possible. Its possession 
constituted its owner what the doctor called a ' Cosmic 



I30 THE CENTAUR xviii 

Being ' — a being scarcely differentiated from the life of 
the Earth Spirit herself — a direct expression of her life, 
a survival of a time before such expressions had 
separated away from her and become individualized as 
human creatures. Moreover, certain of these earliest 
manifestations or projections of her consciousness, 
knowing in their huge shapes of fearful yet simple 
beauty a glory of her own being, still also survived. 
The generic term of ' gods ' might describe their 
status as interpreted to the little human power called 
Imagination. 

This call to the simple life of primal innocence 
and wonder that had ever brimmed the heart of the 
Irishman, acknowledged while not understood, might 
have slumbered itself away with the years among 
modern conditions into atrophy and denial, had he 
not chanced to encounter a more direct and vital 
instance of it even than himself. The powerflilly- 
charged being of this Russian stranger had summoned 
it forth. The mere presence of this man quickened 
and evoked this faintly-stirring centre in his psychic 
being that opened the channel of return. Speech, as 
any other explanation, was unnecessary. To resist 
was still within his power. To accept and go was also 
open to him. The ' inner catastrophe ' he feared need 
not perhaps be insuperable or permanent. 

' Remember,' the doctor had said to him at the end 
of that last significant conversation, * this berth in my 
state-room is freely at your disposal till Batoum.' And 
O'Malley, thanking him, had shaken off that restrain- 
ing hand upon his arm, knowing that he would never 
make use of it again. 

For the Russian stranger and his son had some- 
how made him free. 

Between that cabin and the decks he spent his day. 



XVIII THE CENTAUR 131 

Occasionally he would go below to report progress, as 
it were, by little sentences which he divined would be 
acceptable, and at the same time gave expression to his 
own growing delight. The boy, meanwhile, was 
everywhere, playing alone like a wild thing; one 
minute in the bows, hat ofF, gazing across the sea 
beneath a shading hand, and the next leaning over the 
stern-rails to watch the churning foam that drove 
them forwards. At regular intervals he, too, rushed 
to the cabin and brought communications to his parent. 

' To-morrow at dawn,' observed the Irishman, * we 
shall see Cape Matapan rising from the sea. After 
that, Athens for a few hours ; then coasting through 
the Cyclades, close to the mainland often.' And 
glancing over to the berth, while pretending to be 
busy with his steamer-trunk, he saw the great smile 
of happiness break over the other's face like a 
sunrise. . . . 

For it was clear to him that with the approach to 
Greece, a change began to come over his companions. 
It was noticeable chiefly in the father. The joy that 
filled the man, too fine and large to be named excite- 
ment, passed from him in radiations that positively 
seemed to carry with them a physical extension. This, 
of course, was purely a clairvoyant effect upon the 
mind — O'Malley's divining faculty visualized the 
spiritual traits of the man's dilating Self. But, 
nevertheless, the truth remained that — somehow he 
increased. He grew ; became interiorly more active, 
aUve, potent ; and of this singular waxing of the 
inner spirit something passed outwards and stood 
with rare dignity about his very figure. 

And this manifestation of themselves was due to 
that expansion of the inner life caused by happiness. 
The little point of their personalities they showed 



132 THE CENTAUR xvni 

normally to the world was but a single facet, a tip as 
it were of their whole selves. More lay within, beyond. 
As with the rest of the world, a great emotion stimu- 
lated and summoned it forth into activity nearer the 
surface. Clearly, for these two Greece symbolized a 
point of departure of a great hidden passion. Some- 
thing they expected lay waiting for them there. 
Guidance would come thence. 

And, by reflection perhaps as much as by direct 
stimulation, the same change made itself felt in himself. 
Joy caught him — the joy of a home-coming, long 
deferred. . . . 

At the same time, the warning of Dr. Stahl worked 
in him, if subconsciously only. He showed this by 
mixing more with the other passengers. He chatted 
with the Captain, who was as pleased with his big 
family as though he had personally provided the 
weather that made them happy ; with the Armenian 
priest, who was eager to show that he had read ' a 
much of T'ackeray and Keeplin ' ; and especially with 
the boasting Moscow merchant, who by this time 
' owned ' the smoking-room and imposed his verbose 
commonplaces upon one and all with authoritative 
self-confidence in six languages — a provincial mind in 
full display. The latter in particular held him to 
a normal humanity ; his atmosphere breathed the 
wholesome thickness of the majority of humankind — 
ordinary, egoistic, with the simplicity of the uninspir- 
ing sort. The merchant acted upon him as a sedative, 
and that day the Irishman took him in large doses, 
allopathically, for his talk formed an admirable 
antidote to the stress of that other burning excitement 
that, according to Stahl, threatened to disintegrate his 
personality. 

Though hardly in the sense he intended, the fur- 



XVIII THE CENTAUR 133 

merchant was entirely delightful — engaging as a child ; 
for, among other marked qualities, he possessed 
the unerring instinct of the snob which made him 
select for his friends those whose names or position 
might glorify his banal insignificance — and his stories 
were vivid pictorial illustrations of this useful worldly 
faculty. O'Malley listened with secret delight, 
keeping a grave face and dropping in occasional 
innocent questions to heighten the colour or increase 
the output. Others in the circle responded in kind, 
feeling the same chord vibrating in themselves. Even 
the priest, like a repeating-gun, continually discharged 
his little secret pride that Byron had occupied a room 
in that Venetian monastery where he lived ; and at 
last O'Malley himself was conscious of an inclination 
to report his own immense and recently discovered 
kinship with a greater soul and consciousness than his 
own. After all, he reflected with a deep thrill while 
he listened, the desire of the snob was but a crude and 
simple form of the desire of the mystic : — to lose 
one's little self in a Self which is greater ! 

Then, weary of them all and their minute personal 
interests, he left the smoking-room and joined the 
boy again, running absurd races with him from stern 
to bow, playing hide-and-seek among the decks, even 
playing shuffle-board together. They sweated in the 
blazing sun and watched the dance of the sea ; 
caught the wind in their faces with a shout of joy, 
or with pointing fingers followed the changing out- 
lines of the rare, soft clouds that sailed the world ot 
blue above them. There was no speech between 
them, and both felt that other things, invisible, swift, 
and spirit-footed, whose home is just beyond the 
edge of life as the senses report life, played wildly 
with them. The smoking-room then, with its 



134 THE CENTAUR xviii 

occupants so greedy for the things that money 
connotes — the furs, champagne, cigars, and heavy 
possessions that were symbols of the personal 
aggrandizement they sought and valued — seemed to 
the Irishman like a charnel-house where those about 
to die sat making inventories in blind pride of the 
things they must leave behind. 

It was, indeed, a contrast of Death and Life. 
For beside him, with that playing, silent boy, coursed 
the power of transforming loveliness which had 
breathed over the world before her surface knew 
this swarming race of men. The life of the Earth 
knew no need of outward acquisition, possessing all 
things so completely in herself. And he — he was 
her child — O glory ! Joy passing belief ! 

* Oh ! ' he cried once with passion, turning to the 
fair-haired figure of youth who stood with him in 
the bows, meeting the soft wind, — ' Oh, to have heard 
the trees whispering together in the youth of the 
world, and felt one of the earliest winds that ever 
blew across the cooling seas ! ' 

And the boy, not understanding the words, but 
responding with a perfect naturalness to the emotion 
that drove them forth, seized his hand and with 
an extraordinarily free motion as of flying, raced 
with him down the decks, happy, laughing, hair 
loose over his face, and with a singular action of 
the shoulders as though he somehow — cantered. 
O'Malley remembered his vision of the Flying 
Shapes. . . . 

Towards the evening, however, the boy dis- 
appeared, keeping close to his father's side, and after 
dinner both retired early to their cabin. 

And the ship, meanwhile, drew ever nearer to the 
haunted land. 



XIX 

' Privacy is ignorance.' — Josiah Royce. 

Somewhat after the manner of things suffered 
in vivid dreams, where surprise is numbed and 
wonder becomes the perfect password, the Irishman 
remembers the sequence of little events that filled 
the following day. 

Yet his excitement held nothing of the vicious 
fling of fever ; it was spread over the entire being 
rather than located hotly in the brain and blood 
alone ; and it ' derived,' as it were, from tracts of 
his personality usually unstirred, atrophied indeed 
in most men, that connected him as by a delicate 
network of feelers with Nature and the Earth. He 
came gradually to feel them, as a man in certain 
abnormal conditions becomes conscious of the bodily 
processes that customarily go on in himself without 
definite recognition. 

Stahl could have told him, had he cared to seek 
the information, that this fringe of wider conscious- 
ness, stretching to the stars and winds and earth, was 
the very part that had caused his long unrest and 
yearning — the part that knew the Earth as mother 
and sought the sweet and savage freedom of what 
he called with the poverty of modern terms — 
primitive. The channels leading towards a state of 

135 



136 THE CENTAUR xix 

Cosmic Consciousness, one with the Earth Life, were 
being now flushed and sluiced by the forces emanat- 
ing from the persons of his new companions. 

And as this new state slowly usurped command, 
the readjustment of his spiritual economy thus 
involved, caused other portions of himself to sink 
into temporary abeyance. While it alarmed him, it 
was too delicious to resist. He made no real 
attempt to resist. Yet he knew full well that the 
portion sinking thus out of sight was what folk with 
such high pride call Reason, Judgment, ,Common 
Sense ! 

In common with animal, bird, and insect life, all 
intimately close to Nature, he began to feel as 
realities those subtle currents of the Earth's 
personality by which the seals know direction in the 
depths of a thousand-mile sea, by which the homing 
pigeons blaze trails through space, birds fly south, 
the wild bees know their pathways, and all simple 
life, from the Red Indian to the Red Ant, acknow- 
ledges the viewless guidance of the mother's envelop- 
ing heart. The cosmic life ran through his being, 
lighting signals, offering service, more — claiming 
leadership. 

With it, however, came no loss of individuality, 
but rather a powerful increase of life by means of 
which for the first time he dreamed of a fuller 
existence which should eventually harmonize and 
combine the ancient simplicity of soul that claimed 
the Earth, with the modern complexity which, 
indulged alone, rendered the world so ugly and 
insignificant . . . ! He experienced an immense, 
driving push upon what Bergson has called the 
ilan vital of his being. 

The opening charge of his new discovery, how- 



XIX THE CENTAUR 137 

ever, was more than disconcerting, and it is not 
surprising that he lost his balance. Its attack and 
rush were overwhelming. Thus, it was a kind of 
exalted speculative wonder lying behind his inner 
joy that caused his mistakes. He had imagined, for 
instance, that the first sight of Greece would bring 
some climax of revelation, making clear to what 
particular type of early life the spirits of his 
companions conformed ; more, that they would then 
betray themselves to one and all for what they were 
in some effort to escape, in some act of unrestraint, 
something, in a word, that would explain themselves 
to the world of passengers, and focus them upon 
the doctor's microscope for ever. 

Yet when Greece showed her first fair rim of 
outline, his companions still slept peacefully in their 
bunks. The anticipated denouement did not, appear. 
Nothing happened. It was not the mere sight of so 
much land lying upon the sea's cool cheek that 
could prove vital in an adventure of such a kind. 
For the adventure remained spiritual. O'Malley 
had merely confused two planes of consciousness. 
As usual, he saw the thing ' whole ' in that 
extraordinary way to which his imagination alone 
held the key ; and hence his error. 

Yet the moment has ever remained for him one 
of vital, stirring splendour, significant as life or 
death. He remembers that he was early on deck 
and saw the dawn blow up softly from behind the 
islands with a fresh, salt wind that blew at 
the same time like music into his very heart. 
Golden clear it rose ; and just below, like the 
petals of some vast, archetypal flower that gave it 
birth, the low blue hills of coast and island opened 
magically into blossom. The rocky cliffs of Matapan 



138 THE CENTAUR xix 

slipped past ; the smooth, bare slopes of the ancient 
shore-line followed ; treeless peaks and shoulders, 
abrupt precipices, summits and ridges all exquisitely 
rosy and alive. He had seen Greece before, yet 
never thus, and the emotion that invaded every 
corner of his larger consciousness lay infinitely 
deeper than any mere pseudo-classical thrill he had 
known in previous years. He saw it, felt it, knew 
it from within, instead of as a spectator from without. 
This dawn-mood of the Earth was also his own ; 
and upon his spirit, as upon her blue-crowned hills, 
lay the tide of high light with its delicate swift blush. 
He saw it with her — through one of her opened 
eyes. 

The hot hours the steamer lay in the Piraeus 
Harbour were wearisome, the noise of loading and 
unloading cargo worse even than at Catania. While 
the tourist passengers hurried fussily ashore, carrying 
guide-books and cameras, to chatter among the ruined 
temples, he walked the decks alone, dreaming his 
great dream, conscious that he spun through leagues 
of space with the great Being who more and more 
possessed him. Beyond the shipping and the masts 
collected there from all the ports of the Mediterranean 
and the Levant, he watched the train puffing slowly 
to the station that lay in the shadow of Theseus' 
Temple, but his eyes at the same time strained across 
the haze towards Eleusis Bay, and while his ears 
caught the tramping feet of the long Torchlight 
Procession, some power of his remoter consciousness 
divined the forms of hovering gods, expressions of 
his vast Mother's personality with which, in worship, 
this ancient people had believed it possible to merge 
themselves. The significant truths that lay behind 
the Higher Mysteries, degraded since because 



XIX THE CENTAUR 139 

forgotten and misinterpreted, trooped powerfully 
down into his mind. For the supreme act of this 
profound cult, denied by a grosser age that seeks 
to telephone to heaven, deeming itself thereby 
* advanced,' lay in the union of the disciple with his 
god, the god he worshipped all his life, and into 
whose Person he slipped finally at death by a kind 
of marriage rite. 

* The gods ! ' ran again through his mind with 
passion and delight, as the letter of his early studies 
returned upon him, accompanied now for the first 
time by the in-living spirit that interpreted them. 
' The gods ! — Moods of her giant life, manifestations 
of her spreading Consciousness pushed outwards, 
Powers of life and truth and beauty . . . ! ' 

And, meanwhile. Dr. Stahl, sometimes from a 
distance, sometimes coming close, kept over him a 
kind of half- paternal, half- professional attendance, 
the Irishman accepting his ministrations without 
resentment, almost with indifference. 

' I shall be on deck between two and three in the 
morning to see the comet,' the German observed to 
him casually towards evening as they met on the 
bridge. ' We may meet perhaps ' 

' All right, doctor ; it's more than possible,' 
replied O'Malley, realizing how closely he was 
being watched. 

In his mind at the moment another sentence ran, 
the thought growing stronger and stronger within 
him as the day declined : 

'It will come to-night — come as an inner 
catastrophe not unlike that of death ! I shall hear 
the call — to escape. . . .' 

For he knew, as well as if it had been told to 



I40 THE CENTAUR xix 

him in so many words that the sleep of his two com- 
panions all day was in the nature of a preparation. 
The fluid projections of themselves were all the time 
active elsewhere. Their bodies heavily slumbered ; 
their spirits were out and alert. Summoned forth 
by those strange and radiant evocative forces that 
even in the dullest minds ' Greece ' stirs into life, 
they had temporarily escaped. Again he saw those 
shapes of cloud and wind moving with swift freedom 
over the long, bare hills. Again and again the image 
returned. With the night a similar separation of 
the personality might come to himself too. Stahl's 
warning passed in letters of fire across his inner sight. 
With a relief that yet contained uneasiness he watched 
his shambling figure disappear down the stairway. 
He was alone. 



XX 

' To everything that a man does he must give his undivided atten- 
tion or his Ego. When he has done this, thoughts soon arise in him, 
or else a new method of apprehension miraculously appears. . . . 

• Very remarkable it is that through this play of his personality man 
first becomes aware of his specific freedom, and that it seems to him 
as though he awaked out of a deep sleep, as though he were only now 
at home in the world, and as if the light of day were breaking now 
over his interior life for the first time, . . . The substance of these 
impressions which affect us we call Nature, and thus Nature stands 
in an immediate relationship to those functions of our bodies which 
we call senses. Unknown and mysterious relations of our body allow 
us to surmise unknown and mysterious correlations with Nature, and 
therefore Nature is that wondrous fellowship into which our bodies 
introduce us, and which we learn to know through the mode of its 
constitutions and abilities.* — Novalis, Disciples at Sals. Translated 
by U. .C. B. 

And so, at last, the darkness came, a starry darkness 
of soft blue shadows and phosphorescent sea out of 
which the hills of the Cyclades rose faint as pictures 
of floating smoke a wind might waft away like 
flowers to the sky. 

The plains of Marathon lay far astern, blushing 
faintly with their scarlet tamarisk blossoms. The 
strange purple glow of sunset upon Hymettus had 
long since faded. A hush grew over the sea, now 
a marvellous cobalt blue. The earth, gently sleeping, 
manifested dreamily. Into the subconscious state 
passed one half of her huge, gentle life. 

The Irishman, responding to the eternal spell of 
her dream-state, experienced in quite a new way the 

141 



142 THE CENTAUR xx 

magic of her Night- Mood. He found it more 
difficult than ever to realize as separate entities the 
little things that moved about through the upper 
surface of her darkness. Wings of silver, powerfully 
whirring, swept his soul onwards to another place — 
towards Home. 

And the two worlds intermingled oddly. These 
little separate * outer things ' going to and fro so 
busily became as symbols more or less vital, more 
or less transparent. They varied according to their 
simplicity. Some of them were channels that led 
directly where he was going ; others, again, had lost 
all connection with their vital source and centre of 
existence. To the former belonged the sailors, 
children, the tired birds that rested on the ship as 
they journeyed northwards, swallows, doves, and 
little travellers with breasts of spotted yellow that 
nested in the rigging ; even, in a measure, the gentle, 
brown-eyed priest ; but to the latter, the noisy, 
vulgar, beer-drinking tourists, and, especially, the 
fur - merchant. . . . Stahl, interpreter and inter- 
mediary, hovered between — incarnate compromise. 

Escaping from everybody, at length, he made his 
way into the bows ; there, covered by the stars, he 
waited. And the thing he waited for — he felt it 
coming over him with a kind of massive sensation as 
little local as heat or cold — was that disentanglement 
of a part of his personality from the rest against 
which Stahl had warned him. That portion of 
his complex personality in which resided desire 
and longing, matured during these many years of 
poignant nostalgia, was now slowly and deliberately 
loosening out from the parent centre. It was the 
vehicle of his Urwelt yearnings ; and the Urwelt 
was about to draw it forth. The Call was on its way. 



XX THE CENTAUR 143 

Hereabouts, then, near the Isles of Greece, lay a 
channel to the Earth's far youth, a channel for some 
reason still unclosed. His companions knew it ; he, 
too, had half divined it. The increased psychic 
activity of all three as they approached Greece 
seemed explained. The sign — would it be through 
hearing, sight, or touch ? — would shortly come that 
should convince. 

That very afternoon Stahl had said — ' Greece will 
betray them,' and he had asked : ' Their true form 
and type .'' ' And for answer the old man did an 
expressive thing, far more convincing than words : 
he bent forwards and downwards. He made as 
though to move a moment on all fours. 

O'Malley remembered the brief and vital scene 
now. The word, however, persistently refused to 
come into his mind. Because the word was really 
inadequate, describing but partially a form and 
outline symbolical of far more, — a measure of 
Nature and Deity alike. 

And so, as a man dreading the entrance to a 
great adventure that he yet desires, the Irishman 
waited there alone beneath the cloud of night. . . . 
Soft threads of star-gold, trailing the sea, wove with 
the darkness a veil that hid from his eyes the world 
of crude effects. All memory of the casual realities 
of modern life that so distressed his soul, fled far 
away. The archetypal world, soul of the Earth, 
swam close about him, enormous and utterly simple. 
He seemed alone in some hollow of the night which 
Time had overlooked, and where the powers of sea 
and air held him in the stretch of their gigantic, 
changeless hands. In this hollow lay the entrance to 
the channel down which he presently might flash 
back to that primal Garden of the Earth's first 



144 THE CENTAUR xx 

beauty — her Golden Age . . . down which, at any 
rate, the authoritative Call he awaited was to 
come. ... ' Oh ! what a power has white sim- 
plicity ! ' 

Wings from the past, serene and tranquil, bore 
him towards this ancient peace where echoes of life's 
brazen clash to-day could never enter. Ages before 
Greece, of course, it had flourished, yet Greece had 
caught some flying remnant ere it left the world of 
men, and for a period had striven to renew its life, 
though by poetry but half believed. Over the vales 
and hills of Hellas this mood had lingered bravely 
for a while, then passed away for ever . . . and 
those who dreamed of its remembrance remain home- 
less and lonely, seeking it ever again in vain, lost 
citizens, rejected by the cycles of vainer life and 
action that succeeded. 

The Spirit of the Earth, yes, whispered in his ears 
as he waited covered by the night and stars. She 
called him, as though across all the forests on her 
breast the long sweet winds went whispering his 
name. Lying there upon the coils of thick and 
tarry rope, the Urwelt caught him back with her 
splendid passion. Currents of Earth life, quasi-deific, 
gentle as the hands of little children, tugged softly 
at this loosening portion of his Self, urging his very 
lips, as it were, once more to the mighty Mother's 
breasts. Again he saw those cloud-like shapes career- 
ing over long, bare hills . . . and almost knew him- 
self among them as they raced with streaming winds 
. . . free, ancient comrades among whom he was no 
longer alien and outcast, including his two companions 
of the steamer. The early memory of the Earth 
became his own ; as a part of her, he shared it too. 

The Urwelt closed magnificently about him. 



I 



XX THE CENTAUR 145 

Vast shapes of power and beauty, other than human, 
once his comrades thus, but since withdrawn because 
denied by a pettier age, moved up, huge and dim, 
across the sham barriers of time and space, singing 
the great Earth-Song of welcome in his ears. The 
whisper grew awfully. . . . The Spirit of the Earth 
flew close and called upon him with a shout . . . ! 

Then, out of this amazing reverie, he woke 
abruptly to the consciousness that some one was 
approaching him stealthily, yet with speed, through 
the darkness. With a start he sat up, peering about 
him. There was dew on his clothes and hair. The 
stars, he saw, had shifted their positions. 

He heard the surge of the water from the vessel's 
bows below. The line of the shore lay close on 
either side. Overhead he saw the black threads of 
rigging, quivering with the movement of the ship ; 
the swaying mast-head light ; the dim, round funnels ; 
the confused shadows where the boats swung — and 
nearer, moving between the ropes and windlasses, 
this hurrying figure whose approach had disturbed 
him in his gorgeous dream. 

And O'Malley divined at once that, though in 
one sense a portion of his dream, it belonged out- 
v^ardly to the same world as this long dark steamer 
that trailed after him across the sea. A piece of his 
vision, as it were, had broken off and remained in 
the cruder world wherein his body lay upon these 
tarry ropes. The boy came up and stood a moment 
by his side in silence, then, stooping to the level of 
his head, he spoke : — 

' Come,' he said in low tones of joy ; * come ! 
We wait long for you already ! ' 

The words, like music, floated over the sea, as 
O'Malley took the outstretched hand and suffered 

L 



146 THE CENTAUR xx 

himself to be led quickly towards the lower deck. 
He walked at first as in a dream continued after 
waking ; more than once it seemed as though they 
stepped together from the boards and moved through 
space towards the line of peaked hills that fringed the 
steamer's course so close. For through the salt night 
air ran a perfume that suggested flowers, earth, and 
woods, and there seemed no break in the platforms 
of darkness that knit sea and shore to the very sub- 
stance of the vessel. 



I 



XXI 

The lights in the saloon were out, the smoking-room 
empty, the passengers in bed. The ship seemed 
entirely deserted. Only, on the bridge, the shadow 
of the first officer paced quietly to and fro. Then, 
suddenly, as' they approached the stern, O'Malley 
discerned another figure, huge and motionless, against 
the background of phosphorescent foam ; and at the 
first glance it was exactly as though he had detached 
from the background of his mind one of those 
Flying Outlines upon the hills — and caught it there, 
arrested visibly at last. 

He moved along, fairly sure of himself, yet with 
a tumult of confused sensations, as if consciousness 
were transferring itself now more rapidly to that 
portion of him which sought to escape. 

Leaning forward, in a stooping posture over the 
bulwarks, wrapped in the flowing cape he sometimes 
wore, the man's back and shoulders married so 
intimately with the night that it was hard to determine 
the dividing line between the two. So much more 
of the deck behind him, and of the sky immediately 
beyond his neck, was obliterated than by any possible 
human outline. Whether owing to obliquity of 
disturbed vision, tricks of shadow, or movement of 
the vessel between the stars and foam, the Irishman 
saw these singular emanations spread about him into 

147 



148 THE CENTAUR xxi 

space. He saw them this time directly. And more 
than ever before they seemed in some way right and 
comely — true. They were in no sense monstrous ; 
they reported beauty, though a beauty cloaked in 
power. 

And, watching him, O'Malley felt that this loosen- 
ing portion of himself, as once before in the little 
cabin, likewise began to grow and spread. Within 
some ancient fold of the Earth's dream-consciousness 
they both lay caught. In some mighty Dream of 
her planetary Spirit, dim, immense, slow-moving, 
they played their parts of wonder. Already they 
lay close enough to share the currents of her subcon- 
scious activities. And the dream, as she turned in 
her vast, spatial sleep, was a dream of a time long 
gone. 

Here, amid the loneliness of deserted deck and 
night, this illusion of bulk was more than ever before 
outwardly impressive, and as he yielded to the 
persuasion of the boy's hand, he was conscious of 
a sudden wild inclination to use his own arms and 
legs in a way he had never before known or dreamed 
of, yet that seemed curiously familiar. The balance 
and adjustment of his physical frame sought to shift 
and alter ; neck and shoulders, as it were, urged 
forward ; there came a singular pricking in the loins, 
a rising of the back, a thrusting up and outwards of 
the chest. He felt that something grew behind him 
with a power that sought to impel or drive him in 
advance and out across the world at a terrific gait ; 
and the hearing of his ears became of a sudden 
intensely acute. While his body moved ordinarily, 
he knew that a part of him that was not body moved 
— otherwise, that he neither walked, ran, nor stepped 
upon two feet, but — galloped. The motion pro- 



XXI THE CENTAUR 149 

claimed him kin with the flying shapes upon the hills. 
At the heart of this portion which sought to detach 
itself from his central personality — which, indeed, 
seemed already half escaped — he cantered. 

The experience lasted but a second — this swift, 
free motion of the escaping Double — then passed 
away like those flashes of memory that rise and 
vanish again before they can be seized for examina- 
tion. He shook himself free of the unaccountable 
obsession, and with the effort of returning to the 
actual present, the passing-outwards was temporarily 
checked. And it was then, just as he held himself 
in hand again, that glancing sideways, he became 
aware that the boy beside him had, like his parent, 
also changed — ^grown large and shadowy with a similar 
suggestion of another splendid outline. The extension 
already half accomplished in himself and fully accom- 
plished in the father, was in process of accomplish- 
ment in the smaller figure of the son. Clothed in 
the emerged true shape of their inner being they 
slowly revealed themselves. It was as bewildering as 
watching death, and as stern and beautiful. 

For the boy, still holding his hand, loped along 
beside him as though the projection that emanated 
from him, grown almost physical, were somehow diffi- 
cult to manage. 

In the moment of nearer, smaller consciousness 
that yet remained to him, O'Malley recalled the 
significant pantomime of Dr. Stahl two days before 
in the cabin. It came with a rush of fire. The 
warning operated ; his caution instantly worked. 
He dropped the hand, let the clinging fingers slip 
from his own, overcome by something that appalled. 
For this, surely, was the inner catastrophe that he 
dreaded, the radical internal dislocation of his per- 



I50 THE CENTAUR xxi 

sonality that involved — death. The thing that had 
happened, or was happening to these other two, was 
on the edge of fulfilment in himself — before he was 
either ready or had decided to accept it. 

At any rate he hesitated ; and the hesitation, 
shifting his centre of consciousness back into his 
brain, checked and saved him. A confused sense of 
forces settling back within himself followed ; a kind 
of rush and scuttle of moods and powers : and he 
remained temporarily master of his being, recovering 
balance and command. Twice already — in that 
cabin-scene, as also on the deck when Stahl had 
seized him — the moment had come close. Now, 
again, had he kept hold of the boy's grasp, that inner 
transformation, which should later become exter- 
nalized, must have completed itself. 

' No, no ! ' he tried to cry aloud, * for I'm not yet 
ready ! ' But his voice rose scarcely above a whisper. 
The decision of his will, however, had produced 
the desired result. The ' illusion,' so strangely born, 
had passed, at any rate for the time. He knew once 
more the glory of the steadfast stars, realized that he 
walked normally upon a steamer's deck, heard with 
welcome the surge of the sea below, and felt the 
peace of this calm southern night as they coasted 
with two hundred sleeping tourists between the 
islands and the Grecian mainland. . . . He remem- 
bered the fur-merchant, the Armenian priest, the 
Canadian drummer. . . . 

It seemed his feet half tripped, or at least that he 
put out a hand to steady himself against the ship's 
long roll, for the pair of them moved up to the big 
man's side with a curious, rushing motion that 
brought them all together with a mild collision. And 
the boy laughed merrily, his laughter like singing 



XXI THE CENTAUR 151 

half completed. O'Malley remembers the little 
detail, because it serves to show that he was yet still 
in a state of intensified consciousness, far above the 
normal level. It was still * like walking in my sleep 
or acting out some splendid dream,' as he put it in 
his written version. * Half out of my body, if you 
like, though in no sense of the words at all half out 
of my mind!' 



XXII 

What followed he relates with passion, half con- 
fused. Without speaking the big Russian turned his 
head by way of welcome, and O'Malley saw that 
the proportions of it were magnificent like a frag- 
ment of the night and sky. Though too dark to 
read the actual expression in the eyes, he detected 
their gleam of joy and splendour. The whole pre- 
sentment of the man was impressive beyond any words 
that he could find. Massive, yet charged with swift 
and alert vitality, he reared there through the night, 
his inner self now toweringly manifested. At any 
other time, and without the preparation already 
undergone, the sight might almost have terrified ; 
now it only uplifted. For in similar fashion, though 
lesser in degree, because the mould was smaller, and 
hesitation checked it, this very transformation had 
been going forward within himself. 

The three of them leaned there upon the rails, 
rails oddly dwindled now to the size of a toy steamer, 
while thus the spirit of the dreaming Earth swam 
round and through them, awful in power, yet at 
the same time gentle, winning, seductive as wild 
flowers in the spring. And it was this dehcate, hair- 
like touch of delight, magical with a supreme and 
utterly simple innocence, that made the grandeur of 

152 



XXII THE CENTAUR 153 

the whole experience still easily manageable, and terror 
in it all unknown. 

The Irishman stood on the outside, towards the 
vessel's stern, next him the father, beyond, the boy. 
They touched. A current like a river in flood swept 
through all three. 

He, too, was caught within those visible extensions 
of their personalities ; all again, caught within the 
consciousness of the Earth. Across the sea they 
gazed together in silence — waiting. 

It was the Oro passage, where the mainland 
hills on the west and the Isle of Tenos on the 
east draw close together, and the steamer passes for 
several miles so near to Greece that the boom of 
surf upon the shore is audible. That night, how- 
ever, the sea lay too still for surf; it whispered 
softly in its sleep ; and in its sleep, too, listened. 
They heard its multitudinous rush of voices as the 
surge below raced by — a giant frieze in which the 
phosphorescence painted dancing forms and palely 
luminous faces. Unsubstantial shapes of foam held 
hands in continuous array below the waves, lit by 
soft-sea-lanterns strung together along the steamer's 
sides. 

Yet it was not these glimmering shapes the three 
of them watched, thus intently silent. The lens of 
yearning focussed not in sight. Down the great 
channel at whose opening they stood, leading straight 
to the Earth's old central heart, the message of com- 
munion would not be a visual one. The sensitive 
fringe of their stretched personalities, contacting 
thus actually the consciousness of the planet-soul, 
would quiver to a reaction of another kind. This 
point of union, already affected, would presently 
report itself, unmistakably, yet not to the eyes. The 



154 THE CENTAUR xxii 

increased acuteness of the Irishman's hearing — a kind 
of interior hearing — quickly suppHed the key. It 
was that all three — listened. 

Some primitive sound of Earth would presently 
vibrate through their extended beings with an 
authoritative sweet thunder not to be denied. By a 
Voice, a Call, the Earth would tell them that she 
heard ; that lovingly she was aware of their presence 
in her heart. She would call them, with the voice ot 
one of their own kind. 

How strange it all was ! Enormous in con- 
ception, enormous in distance, scope, stretch ! Yet 
so tiny, intimate, sweet ! And this vast splendour 
was to report itself by one of the insignificant little 
channels by which men, locked in cramped physical 
bodies, interpret the giant universe — a trivial sense- 
impression ! That so terrible a communication could 
reach the soul via the quivering of a wee material 
nerve was on a par with that other grave splendour 
— that God can exist in the heart of a child. 

Thus, dimly, yet with an authority that shakes 
the soul, may little human hearts divine the Immen- 
sities that travel with a thunder of great glory close 
about their daily life. Through regions of their 
sub-liminal consciousness, which transcends the re- 
stricted physical expression of it called personality 
as the moisture of the world transcends a drop of 
water, deific presences pass grandly to and fro. 

For here, to this wild-hearted Irishman with the 
forbidden strain of the Urmensch in his blood, came 
the sharp and instant revelation that the Conscious- 
ness is not contained skin-tight about the body. It 
spread enormously about him, remote, extended ; and 
in some distant tract of it this strange occurrence 
took place. The idea of distance and extension. 



XXII THE CENTAUR 155 

of course, were merely intellectual concepts, like that 
of Time. For what happened, happened near and 
close, beside, within his actual physical person. 
That physical person, with its brain, however, he 
realized, was but a fragment of his total Self. A 
broken piece of the occurrence filtered through from 
beyond and fell upon the deck at his feet. The rest 
he divined, seeing it whole. Only the little bit, 
however, has he found the language to describe. 

And that for which all three listened was already 
on the way. For ever it had been ' happening,' yet 
only reached them now because they were ready and 
open to it. Events upon the physical plane, he 
grasped, represented the last feeble expression of 
things that had happened interiorly with a vaster 
power long ago — and are ever happening still. 
This sound they listened for, coming from the Spirit 
of the Earth, lay ever close to men's ears, divinely 
sweet and splendid. It seemed born somewhere in 
the heart of the blue gloom that draped the hills 
of Greece. Thence, across the peaked mountains, 
stretched the immense pipe of starry darkness that 
carried it towards them as along a channel. Made 
possible of approach by the ancient passion of beauty 
that Greece once knew, it ran down upon the world 
into their hearts, direct from the Being of the Earth. 

With a sudden rush, it grew nearer, swelling with 
a draught of sound that sucked whole spaces of sky 
and sea and stars with it. It emerged. They heard, 
all three. 

Above the pulse and tremble of the steamer's 
engines, above the surge and gurgle of the sea, a cry 
swept towards them from the shore. Long-drawn, 
sweedy-penetrating, yet with some strident accent 
of power and command, this voice of Earth rushed 



156 THE CENTAUR xxii 

upon them over the quiet water — then died away 
again among the mountains and the night. Its 
passage through the sky was torrentiah The whole 
pouring flood of it dipped back with abrupt swift- 
ness into silence. The Irishman understood that but 
an echo of its main volume had come through. 

A deep, convulsive movement ran over the great 
body at his side, and at once communicated itself 
to the boy beyond. Father and son straightened 
up abruptly as though the same force lifted both ; 
then stretched down and forwards over the bulwarks. 
They seemed to shake themselves free of something. 
Neither spoke. Something utterly overwhelming 
lay in that moment. For the cry was at once of 
enchanting sweetness, yet with a deep and dreadful 
authority that overpowered. It invited the very 
soul. 

A moment of silence followed, and the cry was 
then repeated, thinner, fainter, already further away. 
It seemed withdrawn, sunk more deeply into the 
night, higher up, too, floating away northwards into 
remoter vales and glens that lay beyond the shore- 
line. Though still a single cry, there were distinct 
breaks of utterance in it this time, as of words. It 
was, of a kind — speech : a Message, a Summons, a 
Command that somehow held entreaty at its heart. 

And this time the appeal in it was irresist- 
ible. Father and son started forwards as though 
deliberately pulled ; while from himself shot outwards 
that loosening portion of his being that all the even- 
ing had sought release. The vehicle of his yearn- 
ings, passionately summoned, leaped to the ancient 
call of the Earth's eternally young life. This vital 
essence of his personality, volatile as air and fierce as 
lightning, flashed outwards from its hidden prison 



XXII THE CENTAUR 157 

where it lay choked and smothered by the weights 
and measures of modern life. For the beauty and 
splendour of that far voice wrung his very heart and 
set it free. He knew a quasi-physical wrench of 
detachment. A wild and tameless glory fused the 
fastenings of ages. 

Only the motionless solidity of the great figure 
beside him prevented somehow the complete escape, 
and made him understand that the Call just then 
was not for all three of them, especially not for 
himself. The parent rose beside him, massive and 
stable, secure as the hills which were his true home, 
and the boy broke suddenly into happy speech which 
was wild and singing. 

He looked up swiftly into his parent's steady 
visage. 

' Father ! ' he cried in tones that merged half 
with the wind, half with the sea, ' it is his voice ! 
Chiron calls — ! ' His eyes shone like stars, his 
young face was alight with joy and passion. — ' Go, 
father, jyo», or — ' 

He stopped an instant, catching the Irishman's 
eyes upon his own across the form between them. 

' — or you ! ' he added with a laughter of delight ; 
^you go ! ' 

The big figure straightened up, standing back a 
pace from the rails. A low sound rolled from him 
that was like an echo of thunder among hills. With 
slow, laborious distinctness it broke off into fragments 
that were words, with great difficulty uttered, but 
with a final authority that rendered them command. 

' No,' O'Malley heard, ' you — first. And — carry 
word — that we — are — on the way.' Staring out 
across the sea and sky he boomed it deeply. 
' You — first. We — follow — ! ' And the speech 



158 THE CENTAUR xxn 

seemed to flow from the entire surface of his body 
rather than from the lips alone. The sea and air 
mothered the syllables. Thus might the Night 
herself have spoken. 

Chiron ! The word, with its clue of explanation, 
flamed about him with a roar. Was this, then, the 
type of cosmic life to which his companions, and 
himself with them, inwardly approximated . . .? 

The same instant, before O'Malley could move 
a muscle to prevent, the boy climbed the rails with 
an easy, vaulting motion that was swift yet oddly 
spread, and dropped straight down into the sea. He 
fell ; and as he fell it was as if the passage through 
the air drew out a part of him again like smoke. 
Whether it was due to the flying cloak, or to some 
dim wizardry of the shadows, there grew over him 
an instantaneous transformation of outline that was 
far more marked than anything before. For as 
the steamer drew onwards, and the body thus 
passed in its downward flight close beneath 
O'Malley's eyes, he saw that the boy was making 
the first preparatory motions of swimming, — 
movements, however, that were not the horizontal 
sweep of a pair of human arms, but rather the 
vertical strokes of a swimming animal. He pawed 
the air. 

The surprise of the whole unexpected thing came 
upon him with a crash that brought him back 
effectually again into himself. That part of him, 
already half emerged in similar escape, now flashed 
back sheath-like within him. The inner catastrophe 
he dreaded while desiring it, had not yet completed 
itself 

He heard no splash, for the ship was high out ot 
the water, and the place where the body met the sea 



XXII THE CENTAUR 159 

already lay far astern ; but when the momentary 
arrest of his faculties had passed and he found his 
voice to cry for help, the father turned upon him 
like a lion and clapped a great, encompassing hand 
upon his mouth. 

' Quiet ! ' his deep voice boomed. * It is well — 
and he — is — safe.' 

And across the huge and simple visage ran an 
expression of such supreme happiness, while in his 
act and gesture lay such convincing power, that the 
Irishman felt himself overborne and forced to 
acknowledge another standard of authority that 
somehow made the whole thing right. To cry 
' man overboard,' to stop the ship, throw life-buoys 
and the rest, was not only unnecessary, but foolish. 
The boy was safe ; it was well with him ; he was 
not ' lost ' . . . 

*See,' said the parent's deep voice, breaking in 
upon his thoughts as he drew him to one side with 
a certain vehemence, ' See ! ' 

He pointed downwards. And there, between 
them, half in the scuppers, against their very feet, 
lay the huddled body upon the deck, the arms out- 
stretched, the face turned upwards to the stars. 

The bewilderment that followed was like the 
confusion which exists between two states of con- 
sciousness when the mind passes from sleep to 
waking, or vice versa. O'Malley lost that power 
of attention which enables a man to concentrate on 
details sufficiently to recall their exact sequence after- 
wards with certainty. 

Two things, however, stood out and he tells 
them briefly enough : first, that the joy upon the 
father's face rendered an offer of sympathy ludicrous ; 



i6o THE CENTAUR xxii 

secondly, that Dr. Stahl was again upon the scene 
with a promptness which proved him to have been 
close at hand all the time. 

It was between two and three in the morning, 
the rest of the passengers asleep still, but Captain 
Burgenfelder and the first officer appeared soon after 
and an orderly record of the affair was drawn up 
formally. The depositions of the father and of 
himself were duly taken down in writing, witnessed, 
and all the rest. 

The scene in the doctor's cabin remains vividly 
in his mind : the huge Russian standing by the door 
— for he refused a seat — incongruously smiling in 
contrast to the general gravity, his mind obviously 
brought by an effort of concentration to each ques- 
tion ; the others seated round the desk some distance 
away, leaving him in a space by himself; the 
scratching of the doctor's pointed pen ; the still, 
young outline underneath the canvas all through the 
long pantomime, lying upon a couch at the back 
where the shadows gathered thickly. And then the 
gust of fresh wind that came in with a little song as 
they opened the door at the end, and saw the crimson 
dawn reflected in the dewy, shining boards of the 
deck. The father, throwing the Irishman a signi- 
ficant and curious glance, was out to join it on the 
instant. 

Syncope, produced by excitement, cause unknown, 
was the scientific verdict, and an immediate burial 
at sea the parent's wish. As the sun rose over the 
highlands of Asia Minor it was carried into effect. 

But the father's eyes followed not the drop. 
They gazed with rapt, intent expression in another 
direction where the shafts of sunrise sped across 
the sea towards the glens and dales of distant Pelion. 



XXII 



THE CENTAUR i6i 



At the sound of the plunge he did not even turn his 
eyes. He pointed, gathering O'Malley somehow 
into the gesture, across the iEgean Sea to where 
the shores of north-western Arcadia lay below the 
horizon, raised his arms with a huge sweep of 
welcome to the brightening sky, then turned and 
went below without a single word. 

For a few minutes, puzzled and perhaps a little 
awed, the group of sailors and ship's officers re- 
mained standing with bared heads, then disappeared 
silently in their turn, leaving the decks to the sunrise 
and the wind. 



M 



XXIII 

But O'Malley did not immediately return to his 
own cabin ; he yielded to Dr. Stahl's persuasion and 
dropped into the arm-chair he had already occupied 
more than once, watching his companion's prepara- 
tions with the lamp and cofFee-pot. 

With his eyes, that is, he watched, staring, as men 
say, absent-mindedly ; for the fact was, only a little 
bit of him hovered there about his weary physical 
frame. The rest of him was off somewhere else 
across the threshold — subliminal : below, with the 
Russian, beyond with the travelling spirit of the 
boy; but the major portion, out deep in space, 
reclaimed by the Earth. 

So, at least, it felt ; for the circulation of blood 
in his brain ran low and physical sensation there was 
almost none. The driving impulse upon the out- 
lying tracts of consciousness usually submerged had 
been tremendous. 

' That time,' he heard Stahl saying in an oddly 
distant voice from across the cabin, ' you were nearly 
— out ' 

* You heard ? You saw it all ? ' he murmured 
as in half-sleep. For it was an effort to focus his 
mind even upon simple words. 

The reply he hardly caught, though he felt the 
significant stare of the man's eye upon him and 

162 



xxirr THE CENTAUR 163 

divined the shaking of his head. His life still 
pulsed and throbbed far away outside his normal 
self. Complete return was difficult. He felt all 
over : with the wind and hills and sea, all his little 
personal sensations tucked away and absorbed into 
Nature. In the Earth he lay, pervading her whole 
surface, still sharing her vaster life. With her 
he moved, as with a greater, higher, and more 
harmonious creation than himself. In large measure 
the cosmic instincts still swept these quickened 
fringes of his deep subconscious personality. 

' You know them now for what they are,' he 
heard the doctor saying at the end of much else 
he had entirely missed. * The father will be the 
next to go, and then — yourself. I warn you before 
it is too late. Beware ! And — resist ! ' 

His thoughts, and with them those subtle energies 
of the soul that are the vehicles of thought, followed 
where the boy had gone. Deep streams of longing 
swept him. The journey of that spirit, so singularly 
released, drew half his forces after it. Thither the 
bereaved parent and himself were also bound ; and 
the lonely incompleteness of his life lay wholly 
now explained. That cry within the dawn, though 
actually it had been calling always, had at last 
reached him ; hitherto he had caught only misin- 
terpreted echoes of it. From the narrow body it 
had called him forth. Another moment and he 
would have known complete emancipation ; and 
never could he forget that glorious sensation as the 
vital essence tasted half release. Next time the pro- 
cess should complete itself, and he would — go ! 

' Drink this,' he heard abruptly in Stahl's grating 
voice, and saw him cross the cabin with a cup of 
steaming coffee. ' Concentrate your mind now upon 



i64 THE CENTAUR xxiii 

the things about you here. Return to the present. 
And tell me, too, if you can bring yourself to do so,' 
he added, stooping over him with the cup, ' a little 
of what you experienced. The return, I know, is 
pain. But try — try ' 

' Like a little bit of death, yes,' murmured the 

Irishman. ' I feel caught again and caged small.' 

He could have wept. This ugly little life ! 

' Because you've tasted a moment of genuine 
cosmic consciousness and now you feel the limitations 
of normal personality,' Stahl added, more soothingly. 
He sat down beside him and sipped his own coffee. 

' Dispersed about the whole earth I felt, deliciously 
extended and alive,' O'Malley whispered with a faint 
shiver as he glanced about the little cabin, noticing 
the small windows and shut door. ' Upholstery ' 
oppressed him. 'Now I'm back in prison again.' 

There was silence for a moment. Then presently 
the doctor spoke, as though he thought aloud, 
expecting no reply. 

* All great emotions,' he said in lowered tones, 
' tap the extensions of the personality we now call 
subconscious, and a man in anger, in love, in ecstasy 
of any kind is greater than he knows. But to you 
has come, perhaps, the greatest form of all — a definite 
and instant merging with the being of the Earth 
herself. You reached the point where you felt the 
spirit of the planet's life. You almost crossed the 
threshold — your extension edged into her own. 
She bruised you, and you knew- 



( (( 



Bruised " ? ' he asked, startled at the singular 
expression into closer hearing. 

' We are not " aware " of our interior,' he 
answered, smiling a little, ' until something goes 
wrong and the attention is focussed. A keen sensa- 



XXIII THE CENTAUR 165 

tion — pain — and you become aware. Subconscious 
processes then become consciously recognized. I 
bruise your lung for instance ; you become conscious 
of that lung for the first time, and feel it. You 
gather it up from the general subconscious back- 
ground into acute personal consciousness. Similarly, 
a word or mood may sting and stimulate some phase 
of your consciousness usually too remote to be 
recognized. Last night — regions of your extended 
Self, too distant for most men to realize their 
existence at all, contacted the consciousness of the 
Earth herself. She bruised you, and via that bruise 
caught you up into her greater Self. You experienced 
a genuine cosmic reaction.' 

O'Malley listened, though hardly to the actual 
words. Behind the speech, which was in difficult 
German for one thing, his mind heard the rushing 
past of this man's ideas. They moved together 
along the same stream of thought, and the Irishman 
knew that what he thus heard was true, at any rate, 
for himself. And at the same time he recognized 
with admiration the skill with which this scientific 
mystic of a Schiffsarzt sought to lead him back 
into the safer regions of his normal state. Stahl did 
not now oppose or deny. Catching the wave of the 
Celt's experience, he let his thought run sympatheti- 
cally with it, alongside, as it were, guiding gently 
and insinuatingly down to earth again. 

And the result justified this cunning wisdom ; 
O'Malley returned to the common world by degrees. 
For it was enchanting to find his amazing adventure 
explained even in this partial, speculative way. Who 
else among his acquaintances would have listened at 
all, much less admitted its possibility } 

' But, why in particular me ? ' he asked. ' Can't 



1 66 THE CENTAUR xxiii 

everybody know these cosmic reactions you speak of?' 
It was his intellect that asked the foolish question. 
His whole Self knew the answer beforehand. 

' Because/ replied the doctor, tapping his saucer 
to emphasize each word, * in some way you have 
retained an almost unbelievable simplicity of heart 
— an innocence singularly undefiled — a sort of primal, 
spontaneous innocence that has kept you clean and 
open. I venture even to suggest that shame, as most 
men know it, has never come to you at all.' 

The words sank down into him. Passing the 
intellect that would have criticized, they nested deep 
within where the intuition knew them true. Behind 
the clumsy language that is, he caught the thought. 

' As if I were a saint ! ' he laughed faintly. 

Stahl shook his head. ' Rather, because you live 
detached,' he replied, ' and have never identified your 
Self with the rubbish of life. The channels in you 
are still open to these tides of larger existence. I 
wish I had your courage.' 

« While others .? ' 

The German hesitated a moment. * Most men,' 
he said, choosing his words with evident care, ' are 
too grossly organized to be aware that these reactions 
of a wider consciousness can be possible at all. 
Their minute normal Self they mistake for the whole, 
hence denying even the experiences of others. " Our 
actual personality may be something considerably 
unlike that conception of it which is based on our 
present terrestrial consciousness — a form of conscious- 
ness suited to, and developed by, our temporary 
existence here, but not necessarily more than a fraction 
of our total self. It is quite credible that our entire 
personality is never terrestrially manifest." ' ^ Obvi- 

• Oliver Lodge. 



XXIII THE CENTAUR 167 

ously he quoted. The Irishman had read the words 
somewhere. He came back more and more into 
the world — correlated, that is, the subconscious with 
the conscious. 

' Yet consciousness apart from the brain is incon- 
ceivable,' he interposed, more to hear the reply than 
to express a conviction. 

Whether Stahl divined his intention or not, he 
gave no sign. 

* " We cannot say with any security that the 
stuff called brain is the only conceivable machinery 
which mind and consciousness are able to utilize : 
though it is true that we know no other." ' ^ The 
last phrase he repeated : ' " though it is true that we 
know no other." ' 

O'Malley sank deeper into his chair, making no 
reply. His mind clutched at the words ' too grossly 
organized,' and his thoughts ran back for a moment 
to his daily life in London. He pictured his friends 
and acquaintances there ; the men at his club, at 
dinner-parties, in the parks, at theatres ; he heard 
their talk — shooting — destruction of exquisite life ; 
horses, politics, women, and the rest ; yet good, 
honest, lovable fellows all. But how did they breathe 
in so small a world at all ? Practical-minded 
specimens of the greatest civilization ever known ! 
He recalled the heavy, dazed expression on the 
faces of one or two to whom he had sometimes 
dared to speak of those wider realms that were so 
familiar to himself. . . . 

' *' Though it is true that we know no other," ' 
he heard Stahl repeating slowly as he looked down 
into his cup and stirred the dregs. 

Then, suddenly, the doctor rose and came over 

1 Ibid. 



i68 THE CENTAUR xxiii 

to his side. His eyes twinkled, and he rubbed his 
hands vigorously together as he spoke. He laughed. 

' For instance, I have no longer now the conscious- 
ness of that coffee I have just swallowed,' he exclaimed, 
' yet, if it disagreed with me, my consciousness of it 
would return.' 

' The abnormal states you mean are a symptom 
of disorder then ? ' the Irishman asked, following 
the analogy. 

' At present, yes,' was the reply, ' and will remain 
so until their correlation with the smaller conscious 
Self is better understood. These belligerent Powers 
of the larger Consciousness are apt to overwhelm as 
yet. That time, perhaps, is coming. Already a few 
here and there have guessed that the states we call 
hysteria and insanity, conditions of trance, hypnotism, 
and the like, are not too satisfactorily explained.' 
He peered down at his companion. ' If I could 
study your Self at close quarters for a few years,' he 
added significantly, ' and under various conditions, I 
might teach the world ! ' 

' Thank you ! ' cried the Irishman, now wholly 
returned into his ordinary self. He could think of 
nothing else to say, yet he meant the words and gave 
them vital meaning. He moved across to another 
chair. Lighting a cigarette, he puffed out clouds of 
smoke. He did not desire to be caught again 
beneath this man's microscope. And in his mind 
he had a sudden picture of the speculative and 
experimenting doctor being ' requested to sever his 
connection ' with the great Hospital for the sake of 
the latter's reputation. But Stahl, in no way offended, 
was following his own thoughts aloud, half speaking 
to himself. 

*. . . For a being organized as you are, more 



XXIII THE CENTAUR 169 

active in the outlying tracts of consciousness than in 
the centres lying nearer home, — a being like yourself, 
I say, might become aware of Other Life and other 
personalities even more advanced and highly organized 
than that of the Earth.' 

A strange excitement came upon him, making his 
eyes shine. He walked to and fro, O'Malley 
watching him, a touch of alarm mingled with his 
interest. 

' And to think of the great majority that denies 
because they are — dead ! ' he cried. * Smothered ! 
Undivining ! Living in that uninspired fragment 
which they deem the whole ! Ah, my friend,' — and 
he came abruptly nearer — ' the pathos, the comedy, 
the pert self-sufficiency of their dull pride, the crass 
stupidity and littleness of their denials, in the eyes 
of those like ourselves who have actually known the 

passion of the larger experience ! For all this 

modern talk about a Subliminal Self is woven round 
a profoundly significant truth, a truth newly discovered 
and only just beginning to be understood. We are 
much greater than we know, and there is a vast sub- 
conscious part of us. But, what is more important 
still, there is a super-consciousness as well. The 
former represents what the race has discarded ; it is 
past ; but the latter stands for what it reaches out to in 
the future. The perfect man you dream of perhaps is 
he who shall eventually combine the two, for there 
is, I think, a vast amount the race has discarded 
unwisely and prematurely. It is of value and will 
have to be recovered. In the subconsciousness it lies 
secure and waiting. But it is the super-consciousness 
that you should aim for, not the other, for there lie 
those greater powers which so mysteriously wait upon 
the call of genius, inspiration, hypnotism, and the rest.' 



I70 THE CENTAUR xxiii 

* One leads, though, to the other,' interrupted 
O'Malley quickly. ' It is merely a question of the 
swing of the pendulum ? ' 

' Possibly,' was the laconic reply. 

* They join hands, I mean, behind my back, as it 
were.' 

' Possibly.' 

' This stranger, then, may really lead me forward 
and not back ? ' 

' Possibly,' again was all the answer that he got. 

For Stahl had stopped short, as though suddenly 
aware that he had said too much, betraying himself in 
the sudden rush of interest and excitement. The face 
for a moment had seemed quite young, but now the 
flush faded, and the light died out from his eyes. 
O'Malley never understood how the change came 
about so quickly, for in a moment, it seemed, the 
doctor was calm again, quietly lighting one of his 
black cigars over by the desk, peering at him half 
quizzingly, half mockingly through the smoke. 

' So I urge you again,' he was saying, as though 
the rest had been some interlude that the Irishman 
had half imagined, ' to proceed with the caution of 
this sane majority, the caution that makes for safety. 
Your friend, as I have already suggested to you, is a 
direct expression of the cosmic life of the earth. 
Perhaps, you have guessed by now, the particular 
type and form. Do not submit your inner life too 
completely to his guidance. Contain your Self — and 
resist — while it is yet possible.' 

And while he sat on there, sipping hot cofFee, half 
listening to the words that warned of danger while 
at the same time they cunningly urged him forwards, 
it seemed that the dreams of childhood revived in 
him with a power that obliterated this present day — 



XXIII THE CENTAUR 171 

the childhood, however, not of his mere body, but of 
his spirit, when the world herself was young. . . . 
He, too, had dwelt in Arcady, known the free life 
of splendour and simplicity in some Saturnian 
Reign ; for now this dream, but half remembered, 
half believed, though eternally yearned for — dream 
of a Golden Age untouched by Time, still there, 
still accessible, still inhabited, was actually coming 
true. 

It surely was that old Garden of innocence and 
joy where the soul, while all unvexed by a sham and 
superficial civilization of the mind, might yet know 
growth — a realm half divined by saints and poets, 
but to the gross majority forgotten or denied. 

The Simple Life ! This new interpretation of it 
at first overwhelmed. The eyes of his soul turned 
wild with glory; the passion that o'er-runs the 
world in desolate places was his ; his, too, the 
strength of rushing rivers that coursed their parent's 
being. He shared the terror of the mountains and 
the singing of the sweet Spring rains. The spread 
wonder of the woods of the world lay imprisoned 
and explained in the daily hurry of his very blood. 
He understood, because he felt, the power of the 
ocean tides ; and, flitting to and fro through the 
tenderer regions of his extended Self, danced the 
fragrance of all the wild flowers that ever blew. 
That strange allegory of man, the microcosm, and 
earth, the macrocosm, became a sudden blazing 
reality. The feverish distress, unrest, and vanity of 
modern life was due to the distance men had 
travelled from the soul of the world, away from 
large simplicity into the pettier state they deemed so 
proudly progress. 

Out of the transliminal depths of this newly 



172 THE CENTAUR xxiii 

awakened Consciousness rose the pelt and thunder of 
these magical and enormous cosmic sensations — the 
pulse and throb of the planetary life where his little 
Self had fringed her own. Those untamed pro- 
fundities in himself that walked alone, companionless 
among modern men, suffering an eternal nostalgia, 
at last knew the approach to satisfaction. For when 
the ' inner catastrophe ' completed itself and escape 
should come — that transfer of the conscious centre 
across the threshold into this vaster region stimulated 
by the Earth — all his longings would be housed at 
last like homing birds, nested in the gentle places his 
yearnings all these years had lovingly built for them 
— in a living Nature ! The fever of modern life, the 
torture and unrest of a false, external civilization 
that trained the brain while it still left wars and 
baseness in the heart, would drop from him like the 
symptoms of some fierce disease. The god of speed 
and mechanism that ruled the world to-day, urging 
men at ninety miles an hour to enter a Heaven 
where material gain was only a little sublimated and 
not utterly denied, would pass for the nightmare 
that it really was. In its place the cosmic life of 
undifferentiated simplicity, clean and sweet and big, 
would hold his soul in the truly everlasting arms. 

And that little German doctor, sitting yonder, 
enlightened yet afraid, seeking an impossible com- 
promise — Stahl could no more stop his going than a 
fly could stop the rising of the Atlantic tides. 

Out of all this tumult of confused thought and 
feeling there rose then the silver face of some 
forgotten and passionate loveliness. Apparently it 
reached his lips, for he heard his own voice mur- 
muring outside him somewhere across the cabin : — 

' The gods of Greece — and of the world ' 



XXIII THE CENTAUR 173 

Yet the instant words clothed it, the flashing 
glory went. The idea plunged back out of sight — 
untranslatable in language. Thrilled and sad, he 
lay back in his chair, watching the doctor and trying 
to focus his mind upon what he was saying. But 
the lost idea still dived and reared within him like a 
shining form, yet never showing more than this 
radiant point above the surface. The passion and 
beauty of it . . . ! He tried no more to tie a label 
of modern words about its neck. He let it swim 
and dive and leap within him uncaught. Only he 
understood better why, close to Greece, his friends 
had betrayed their inner selves, and why for the 
lesser of the two, whose bodily cage was not yet fully 
clamped and barred by physical maturity, escape, or 
return rather, had been possible, nay, had been 
inevitable. 



XXIV 

Stahl, he remembers, had been talking for a long 
time. The general sense of what he said reached 
him, perhaps, but certainly not many of the words. 
The doctor, it was clear, wished to coax from him 
the most intimate description possible of his ex- 
perience. He put things crudely in order to 
challenge criticism, and thus to make his companion's 
reason sit in judgment on his heart. If this visionary 
Celt would let his intellect pass soberly and dis- 
sectingly upon these flaming states of wider conscious- 
ness he had touched, the doctor would have data 
of real value for his own purposes. 

But this discriminating analysis was precisely 
what the Irishman found impossible. His soul was 
too ' dispersed ' to concentrate upon modern terms 
and phrases. These in any case dealt only with 
the fragments of Self that manifested through brain 
and body. The rest could be felt only, never truly 
described. Since the beginning of the world such 
transcendental experiences had never been translat- 
able in the language of ' common ' sense ; and to- 
day, even, when a few daring minds sought a 
laborious classification, straining the resources of 
psychology, the results were little better than a 
rather enticing and suggestive confusion. 

In his written account, indeed, he gives no proper 
174 



XXIV THE CENTAUR 175 

report of what Stahl tried to say. A gaping hiatus 
appears in the manuscript, with only asterisks and 
numbers that referred to pages of his tumbled note- 
books. Following these indications I came across 
the skeletons of ideas which perhaps were the raw 
material, so to say, of these crude and speculative 
statements that the German poured out at him across 
that cabin — blocks of exaggeration he flung at him, 
in the hope of winning some critical and intelligible 
response. Like the structure of some giant fairy- 
tale they read — some toppling scaffolding that needed 
reduction in scale before it could be focussed for 
normal human sight. 

' Nature ' was really alive for those who believed 
— and worshipped ; for worship was that state of 
consciousness which opens the sense and provides 
the channel for this singular interior realization. 
In very desolate and lonely places, unsmothered and 
unstained by men as they exist to-day, such ex- 
pressions of the Earth's stupendous, central vitality 
were still possible. . . . The ' Russian ' himself was 
some such fragment, some such cosmic being, 
strayed down among men in a form outwardly human, 
and the Irishman had in his own wild, untamed 
heart those same very tender and primitive possi- 
bilities which enabled him to know and feel it. 

In the body, however, he was fenced off — without. 
Only by the disentanglement of his primitive self 
from the modern development which caged it, could 
he recover this strange lost Eden and taste in its 
fulness the mother-life of the planetary consciousness 
which called him back. This dissociation might be 
experienced temporarily as a subliminal adventure ; 
or permanently — in death. 

Here, it seemed, was a version of the pro- 



176 THE CENTAUR xxiv 

found mystical idea that a man must lose his 
life to find it, and that the personal self must be 
merged in a larger one to know peace — the incessant, 
burning nostalgia that dwells in the heart of every 
religion known to men : escape from the endless 
pain of futile personal ambitions and desires for 
external things that are unquenchable because never 
possible of satisfaction. It had never occurred to 
him before in so literal and simple a form. It ex- 
plained his sense of kinship with the earth and nature 
rather than with men. . . . 

There followed, then, another note which the 
Irishman had also omitted from his complete story as 
I found it — in this MS. that lay among the dust and 
dinginess of the Paddington back-room like some 
flaming gem in a refuse heap. It was brief but 
pregnant — the block of another idea, Fechner's 
apparently, hurled at him by the little doctor. 

That, just as the body takes up the fact of the 
bruised lung into its own general consciousness, 
lifting it thereby from the submerged, unrealized 
state ; and just as our human consciousness can be 
caught up again as a part of the earth's ; so, in turn, 
the Planet's own vast personality is included in the 
collective consciousness of the entire Universe — all 
steps and stages of advance to that final and august 
Consciousness of which they are fragments, pro- 
jections, manifestations in Time — GOD. 

And the immense conception, at any rate, gave him 
a curious, flashing clue to that passionate inclusion 
which a higher form of consciousness may feel for 
the countless lesser manifestations below it ; and so 
to that love for humanity as a whole that saviours 
feel. . . . 



XXIV THE CENTAUR 177 

Yet, out of all this deep flood of ideas and 
suggestions that somehow poured about him from the 
mind of this self-contradictory German, alternately 
scientist and mystic, O'Malley emerged with his 
own smaller and vivid personal delight that he would 
presently himself — escape : escape under the guid- 
ance of the big Russian into some remote corner 
of his own extended Being, where he would enjoy 
a quasi-merging with the Earth-life, and know sub- 
jectively at least the fruition of all his yearnings. 

The doctor had phrased it once that a part of 
him fluid, etheric or astral, malleable by desire, 
would escape and attain to this result. But, after 
all, the separation of one portion of himself from the 
main personality could only mean being conscious 
in another part of it — in a division usually submerged. 

As Stahl so crudely put it, the Earth had bruised 
him. He would know in some little measure the 
tides of her own huge life, his longings, loneliness, 
and nostalgia explained and satisfied. He would 
find that fair old Garden. He might even know 
the lesser gods. 

That afternoon at Smyrna the matter was oflicially 
reported, and so officially done with. It caused 
little enough comment on the steamer. The majority 
of the passengers had hardly noticed the boy at all, 
much less his disappearance ; and while many of 
them landed there for Ephesus, still more left the 
ship next day at Constantinople. 

The big Russian, though he kept mostly to his 
own cabin, was closely watched by the ship's officers, 
and O'Malley, too, realized that he was under 
observation. But nothing happened ; the emptied 
steamer pursued her quiet way, and the Earth, 

N 



1 78 THE CENTAUR xxiv 

unrealized by her teeming freight so busy with their 
tiny personal aims, rushed forwards upon her glorious 
journey through space. 

O'Malley alone realized her presence, aware that 
he rushed with her amid a living universe. But he 
kept his new sensations to himself. The remainder of 
the voyage, indeed, across the Black Sea via Samsoun 
and Trebizond, is hazy in his mind so far as 
practical details are concerned, for he found himself 
in a dreamy state of deep peace and would sometimes 
sit for hours in reverie, only reminded of the present 
by certain pricks of annoyance from the outer world. 
He had returned, of course, to his own state-room, 
yet felt in such close sympathy with his companion 
that no outward expression by way of confidence or 
explanation was necessary. In their Subconscious- 
ness they were together and at one. 

The pricks of annoyance came, as may be expected, 
chiefly from Dr. Stahl, and took the form of 
variations of * I told you so.' The man was in a 
state of almost anger, caused half by disappoint- 
ment, half by unsatisfied curiosity. His cargo of oil 
and water would not mix, yet he knew not which to 
throw overboard ; here was another instance where 
facts refused to tally with the beliefs dictated by sane 
reason ; where the dazzling speculations he played 
with threatened to win the day and destroy the 
compromise his soul loved. 

The Irishman, however, did not resent his 
curiosity, though he made no attempt to satisfy it. 
He allowed him to become authoritative and pro- 
fessional, to treat him somewhat as a patient. What 
could it matter to him, who in a few hours would 
land at Batoum and go off with his guide andi 
comrade to some place where ? The thought hej 



XXIV THE CENTAUR 179 

could never see completed in words, for he only knew 
that the fulfilment of the adventure would take place 
— somewhere, somehow, somewhen — in that space 
within the soul of which external space is but an 
image and a figure. What takes place in the mind 
and heart are alone the true events ; their outward 
expression in the shifting and impermanent shapes of 
matter is the least real thing in all the world. For 
him the experience would be true, real, authoritative 
— fact in the deepest sense of the word. Already he 
saw it ' whole.' 

Faith asks no travellers' questions — exact height 
of mountains, length of rivers, distance from the sea, 
precise spelling of names, and so forth. He felt — 
the quaint and striking simile is in the written 
account — like a man hunting for a pillar-box in a 
strange city — absurdly difficult to find, as though 
purposely concealed by the authorities amid details 
of street and houses to which the eye is unaccustomed, 
yet really close at hand all the time. . . . 

But at Trebizond, a few hours before Batoum, 
Dr. Stahl in his zealous attentions went too far ; for 
that evening he gave his 'patient' a sleeping-draught in 
his coffee that caused him to lie for twelve hours on 
the cabin sofa, and when at length he woke towards 
noon, the Customs officers had been aboard since nine 
o'clock, and most of the passengers had already landed. 

Among them, leaving no message, the big Russian 
had also gone ashore. And, though Stahl may have 
been actuated by the wisest and kindest motives, he 
was not quite prepared for the novel experience with 
which it provided him — namely, of hearing an angry 
Irishman saying rapidly what he thought of him in a 
stream of eloquent language that lasted nearly a 
quarter of an hour without a break ! 



XXV 

Although Batoum is a small place, and the trains 
that leave it during the day are few enough, O'Malley 
knew that to search for his friend by the methods 
of the ordinary detective were useless. They would 
have been also wrong. The man had gone deliber- 
ately, without attempting to say good-bye — because, 
having come together in the real and inner sense, 
real separation was not possible. The vital portion 
of their beings, thought, feeling, and desire, were 
close and always would be. Their bodies, busy at 
different points of the map among the casual realities 
of external life, could make no change in that. And 
at the right moment they would assuredly meet again 
to begin the promised journey. 

Thus, at least, in some fashion peculiarly his own, 
was the way the Irishman felt ; and this was why, 
after the first anger with his German friend, he 
resigned himself patiently to the practical business 
he had in hand. 

The little incident was characteristically revealing, 
and shows how firmly rooted in his imaginative 
temperament was the belief, the unalterable conviction 
rather, that his life operated upon an outer and an 
inner plane simultaneously, the one ever reacting 
upon the other. It was as if he were aware of two 
separate sets of faculties, subtly linked, one carrying 

i8o 



XXV 



THE CENTAUR i8i 



on the affairs of the physical man in the * practical ' 
world, the other dealing with the spiritual economy 
in the subconscious. To attend to the latter alone 
was to be a useless dreamer among men, unpractical, 
unbalanced ; to neglect it wholly for the former was 
to be crassly limited, but half alive ; to combine the 
two in effective co-operation was to achieve that high 
level of a successful personality, which some perhaps 
term genius, some prophet, and others, saint. It 
meant, at any rate, to have sources of inspiration 
within oneself^ 

Thus he spent the day completing what was 
necessary for his simple outfit, and put up for the 
night at one of the little hotels that spread their 
tables invitingly upon the pavement, so that dinner 
may be enjoyed in full view of one of the most 
picturesque streams of traffic it is possible to see. 

The sultry, enervating heat of the day had passed 
and a cool breeze came shorewards over the Black 
Sea. With a box of thin Russian cigarettes before 
him he lingered over the golden Kakhetian wine and 
watched the crowded street. Knowing enough of 
the language to bargain smartly for his room, his 
pillows, sheets, and samovar, he yet could scarcely 
compass conversation with the strangers about him. 
Of Russian proper, besides, he heard little ; there 
was a babel of many tongues, Armenian, Turkish, 
Georgian, explosive phrases of Swanetian, soft 
gliding Persian words, and the sharp or guttural 
exclamations of the big-voiced, giant fellows, all 
heavily armed, who belonged to the bewildering 
tribes that dwelt among the mountains beyond. 
Occasionally came a broken bit of French or 
German ; but they strayed in, lost and bizarre, as 
fragments from some distant or forgotten world. 



1 82 THE CENTAUR 



XXV 



Down the pavement, jostling his elbows, strode 
the constant, gorgeous procession of curious, wild, 
barbaric faces, bearded, with hooked noses, flashing 
eyes, bourkas flowing ; cartridge-belts of silver and 
ivory gleaming across chests in the glare of the 
electric light ; bashliks of white, black, and yellow 
wool upon the head, increasing the stature ; evil- 
looking Black Sea knives stuck in most belts, rifles 
swung across great supple shoulders, long swords 
trailing ; Turkish gypsies, dark and furtive-eyed, 
walking softly in leather slippers — of endless and 
fascinating variety, many coloured and splendid, it 
all was. From time to time a droschky with two 
horses, or a private carriage with three, rattled noisily 
over the cobbles at a reckless pace, stopping with the 
abruptness of a practised skater ; and oflicers with 
narrow belted waists like those of women, their fuJl- 
skirted cloaks reaching half-way down high boots of 
shining leather, sprang out to pay the driver and take 
a vacant table at his side ; and once or twice a 
body of soldiers, several hundred strong, singing the 
national songs with a full-throated vigour, hoarse, 
wild, somehow half terrible, passed at a swinging 
gait away into the darkness at the end of the street, 
the roar of their barbaric singing dying away in the 
distance by the sea where the boom of waves just 
caught it. 

And O'Malley loved it all, and ' thrilled ' as he 
watched and listened. From his hidden self within 
something passed out and joined it. He felt the 
wild pulse of energetic life that drove along 
with the tumult of it. The savage, untamed soul 
in him leaped as he saw ; the blood ran faster. 
Sitting thus upon the bank of the hurrying stream, 
he knew himself akin to the main body of the 



XXV THE CENTAUR 183 

invisible current further out ; it drew him with it, 
and he experienced a quickening of all his impulses 
towards some wild freedom that was mighty — clean — 
simple. 

Civilian dress was rare, and noticeable when it 
came. The shipping agents wore black alpaca coats, 
white trousers, and modern hats of straw. A few 
ship's officers in blue, with official caps gold-braided, 
passed in and out like men without a wedding 
garment, as distressingly out of the picture as tourists 
in check knickerbockers and nailed boots moving 
through some dim cathedral aisle. O'Malley recog- 
nized one or two from his own steamer, and turned 
his head the other way. It hurt. He caught him- 
self thinking, as he saw them, of Stock Exchanges, 
twopenny - tubes, Belgravia dinner - parties, private 
views, ' small and earlies,' musical comedy, and all 
the rest of the dismal and meagre programme. 
These harmless little modern uniforms were worse 
than ludicrous, for they formed links with the glare 
and noise of the civilization he had left behind, the 
smeared vulgarity of the big cities where men and 
women live in their possessions, wasting life in that 
worship of external detail they call * progress ' . . , 

A well-known German voice crashed through his 
dream. 

' Already at the wine 1 These Caucasian vintages 
are good ; they really taste of grapes and earth and 
flowers. Yes, thanks, I'll join you for a moment if 
I may. We only lie three days in port and are glad 
to get ashore.' 

O'Malley called for a second glass, and passed the 
cigarettes. 

'I prefer my black cigars, thank you,' was the 
reply, lighting one. *You push on to-morrow, I 



1 84 THE CENTAUR xxv 

suppose ? Kars, Tiflis, Erzerum, or somewhere a 
little wilder in the mountains, eh ? ' 

' Towards the mountains, yes,' the Irishman said. 
Dr. Stahl was the only person he could possibly have 
allowed to sit next him at such a time. He had 
quite forgiven him now, and though at first he felt 
no positive welcome, the strange link between the 
two men quickly asserted itself and welded them 
together in that odd harmony they knew in spite 
of all differences. They could be silent together, 
too, without distress or awkwardness, sure test 
that at least some portion of their personalities 
fused. 

And for a long time they remained silent, watch- 
ing the surge and movement of the old, old types 
about them. They sipped the yellow wine and 
smoked. The stars came out ; the carriages grew 
less ; from far away floated a deep sonorous echo 
now and then of the soldiers singing by their barracks. 
Sometimes a steamer hooted. Cossacks swung by. 
Often some wild cry rang out from a side street. 
There were heavy, unfamiliar perfumes in the air. 
Presently Stahl began talking about the Revolu- 
tion of a few years before and the scenes of 
violence he had witnessed in these little streets, the 
shooting, barricades, bombs thrown into passing 
carriages, Cossacks charging down the pavements with 
swords drawn, shouting and howling. O'Malley 
listened with a part of his mind at any rate. The 
rest of him was much further away. . . . He was 
up among the mountain fastnesses. Already, it 
seemed, he knew the secret places of the mist, the 
lair of every running wind. . . . 

Two tall mountain tribesmen swaggered past close 
to their table ; the thick grey bourkas almost swept 



XXV 



THE CENTAUR 185 



their glasses. They walked magnificently with easy, 
flowing stride, straight from the hips. 

* The earth here,' said O'Malley, taking advantage 
of a pause in the other's chatter, ' produces some 
splendid types. Look at those two ; they make one 
think of trees walking — blown along bodily before a 
wind.' He watched them with admiration as they 
swung off and disappeared among the crowd. 

Dr. Stahl, glancing keenly at him, laughed a little. 

* Yes,' he said ; ' brave, generous fellows too as 
a rule, who will shoot you for a pistol that excites 
their envy, yet give their life to save one of their 
savage dogs. They're still — natural^' he added after 
a moment's hesitation ; ' still unspoilt. They live 
close to Nature with a vengeance. Up among the 
Ossetines on the high saddles you'll find true Pagans 
who worship trees, sacrifice blood, and offer bread 
and salt to the nature-deities.' 

'Still V asked O'Malley, sipping his wine. 

' Still,' replied Stahl, following his example. 

Over the glasses' rims their eyes met. Both 
smiled, though neither quite knew why. The Irish- 
man, perhaps, was thinking of the little city clerks 
he knew at home, pigeon-breasted, pale-faced, under- 
sized. One of these big men, so full of rushing, 
vigorous life, would eat a dozen at a sitting. 

' There's something here the rest of the world has 
lost,' he murmured to himself But the doctor heard 
him. 

' You feel it } ' he asked quickly, his eyes brighten- 
ing. ' The awful, primitive beauty — ? ' 

* I feel — something, certainly,' was the cautious 
answer. He could not possibly have said more just 
then ; yet it seemed as though he heard far echoes 
of that voice that had been first borne to his ears 



1 86 THE CENTAUR xxv 

across the blue iEgean. In the gorges of these 
terrible mountains it surely sounded still. These 
men must know it too. 

' The spell of this strange land will never leave 
you once you've felt it,' pursued the other quietly, 
his voice deepening. ' Even in the towns here — 
Tiflis, Kutais — I have felt it. Hereabouts is the 
cradle of the human race, they say ; and the people 
have not changed for thousands of years. Some of 
them you'll find ' — he hunted for a word, then said 
with a curious, shrugging gesture, ' terrific' 

' Ah ' said the Irishman, lighting a fresh 

cigarette from the dying stump so clumsily that the 
trembling of the hand was noticeable. 

' And akin most likely,' said Stahl, thrusting his 
face across the table with a whispering tone, * to that 
— man — who — tempted you.' 

O'Malley did not answer. He drank the liquid 
golden sunshine in his glass ; his eyes lifted to the 
stars that watched above the sea ; between the surge 
of human figures came a little wind from the grim, 
mysterious Caucasus beyond. He turned all tender 
as a child, receiving as with a shock of sudden 
strength and sweetness a thousand intimate messages 
from the splendid mood of old Mother-Earth who 
here expressed herself in such a potent breed of men 
and mountains. 

He heard the doctor's voice still speaking, as from 
a distance though : — 

* For here they all grow with her. They do not 
fight her and resist. She pours freely through 
them ; there is no opposition. The channels still lie 
open ; . . . and they share her life and power.' 

'That beauty which the modern world has lost,' 
repeated the other to himself, lingering over the 



XXV THE CENTAUR 187 

words, and wondering why they expressed so little of 
what he really meant. 

' But which will never — can never come again,' 
Stahl completed the sentence. There was a wistful, 
genuine sadness in his voice and eyes, and the sym- 
pathy touched the inflammable Celt with fire. It 
was ever thus with him. The little man opposite, 
with the ragged beard, and the bald, domed head 
gleaming in the electric light, had laid a card upon 
the table, showing a bit of his burning heart. The 
generous Irishman responded like a child, laying 
himself bare. So hungry was he for comprehension. 

' Men have everywhere else clothed her fair body 
with their smothering, ugly clothing and their herded 
cities,' he burst out, so loud that the Armenian waiter 
sidled up, thinking he called for wine. ' But here 
she lies naked and unashamed, sweet in divinity made 
simple. By Jove ! I tell you, doctor, it burns and 
sweeps me with a kind of splendid passion that 
drowns my little shame-faced personality of the 
twentieth century. I could run out and worship 
— fall down and kiss the grass and soil and 
sea ! ' 

He drew back suddenly like a wounded animal ; 
his face turned scarlet, as though he knew himself 
convicted of an hysterical outburst. Stahl's eyes had 
changed even as he spoke the flaming words that 
struggled so awkwardly to seize his mood of rapture 
— a thought the Earth poured through him for a 
moment. The bitter, half-mocking smile lay in 
them, and on the lips the cold and critical expression of 
the other Stahl, sceptic and science-man. A revulsion 
of feeling caught them both. But to O'Malley came 
the thought that once again he had been drawn — was 
being coaxed for examination beneath the microscope. 



1 88 THE CENTAUR xxv 

* The material here,' Stahl said presently, with the 
calm tones of a dispassionate diagnosis, ' is magnificent 
as you say, uncivilized without being merely savage, 
untamed, yet far from crude barbarism. When the 
progress of the age gets into this land the transforma- 
tion will be grand. When Russia lets in culture, 
when modern improvements have developed her 
resources and trained the wild human forces into 
useful channels. . . .' 

He went on calmly by the yard, till it was all the 
Irishman could do not to dash the wine-glass in his 
face. 

* Remember my words when you are up in the 
lonely mountains,' he concluded at length, smiling 
his queer sardonic smile, ' and keep yourself in hand. 
Put on the brakes when possible. Your experience 
will thus have far more value.' 

' And you,' replied O'Malley bluntly, so bluntly it 
was almost rudeness, ' go back to Fechner, and try 
to save your compromising soul before it is too 
late ' 

' Still following those lights that do mislead the 
morn,' Stahl added gently, breaking into English for 
a phrase he apparently loved. They laughed and 
raised their glasses. 

A long pause came which neither cared to break. 
The streets were growing empty, the personality of 
the mysterious little Black Sea port folding away into 
the darkness. The wilder element had withdrawn 
behind the shuttered windows. There came a 
murmur of the waves, but the soldiers no longer 
sang. The droschkys ceased to rattle past. The 
night flowed down more thickly from the mountains, 
and the air, moist with that malarial miasma which 
makes the climate of this reclaimed marsh whereon 



XXV THE CENTAUR 189 

Batoum is built so unhealthy, closed unpleasantly 
about them. The stars died in it. 

' Another glass ? ' suggested Stahl. ' A drink to 
the gods of the Future, and till we meet again, on 
your return journey, eh ,? ' 

' I'll walk with you to the steamer,' was the reply. 
' I never care for much wine. And the gods of the 
Future will prefer my usual offering, I think — 
imaginative faith.' 

The doctor did not ask him to explain. They 
walked down the middle of the narrow streets. No 
one was about, nor were there lights in many 
windows. Once or twice from an upper story came 
the faint twanging of a balalaika against the drone of 
voices, and occasionally they passed a little garden 
where figures outlined themselves among the trees, 
with the clink of glasses, laughter of men and girls, 
and the glowing tips of cigarettes. 

They turned down towards the harbour where the 
spars and funnels of the big steamers were just visible 
against the sky, and opposite the unshuttered window 
of a shop — one of those modern shops that oddly 
mar the town with assorted German tinware, Paris 
hats, and oleographs indiscriminately mingled — Stahl 
stopped a moment and pointed. They moved up 
idly and looked in. From the shadows of the other 
side, well hidden, an armed patrol eyed them sus- 
piciously, though they were not aware of it. 

' It was before a window like this,' remarked 
Stahl, apparently casually, * that I once in Tiflis over- 
heard two mountain Georgians talking together as 
they examined a reproduction of a modern picture — 
BOcklin's " Centaur." They spoke in half whispers, 
but I caught the trend of what they said. You know 
the picture, perhaps .? ' 



I90 THE CENTAUR xxv 

* I've seen it somewhere, yes,' was the short reply. 
' But what were they saying ? ' He strove to keep 
his voice commonplace and casual like his companion's. 

' Oh, just discussing it together, but with a curious 
stretched interest,' Stahl went on. ' One asked, 
" What does it say ? " and pointed to the inscription 
underneath. They could not read. For a long time 
they stared in silence, their faces grave and half afraid. 
" What is it .'' " repeated the first one, and the other, a 
much older man, heavily bearded and of giant build, 
replied low, '* It's what I told you about " ; there 
was awe in his tone and manner ; " they still live in 

the big valley of the rhododendrons beyond " 

mentioning some lonely uninhabited region towards 
Daghestan ; *' they come in the spring, and are very 
swift and roaring. . . . You must always hide. To 
see them is to die. But they cannot die ; they are of 
the mountains. They are older, older than the stones. 
And the dogs will warn you, or the horses, or some- 
times a great sudden wind, though you must never 
shoot." They stood gazing in solemn wonder for 
minutes . . . till at last, realizing that their silence 
was final, I moved away. There were manifestations 
of life in the mountains, you see, that they had seen 
and knew about — old forms akin to that picture 
apparently.' 

The patrol came out of his shadows, and Stahl 
quickly drew his companion along the pavement. 

* You have your passport with you ? ' he asked, 
noticing the man behind them. 

' It went to the police this afternoon. I haven't 
got it back yet.' O'Mallcy spoke thickly, in a voice 
he hardly recognized as his own. How much he 
welcomed that casual interruption of the practical 
world he could never explain or tell. For the 



XXV THE CENTAUR 191 

moment he had felt like wax in the other's hands. 
He had dreaded searching questions, and felt unspeak- 
ably relieved. A minute more and he would have 
burst into confession. 

* You should never be without it,' the doctor 
added. ' The police here are perfect fiends, and can 
cause you endless inconvenience.' 

O'Malley knew it all, but gladly seized the talk 
and spun it out, asking innocent questions while 
scarcely listening to the answers. They distanced 
the patrol and neared the quays and shipping. In 
the darkness of the sky a great line showed where the 
spurs of the Lesser Caucasus gloomed huge and 
solemn to the East and West. At the gangway of 
the steamer they said good-bye. Stahl held the Irish- 
man's hand a moment in his own. 

' Remember, when you know temptation strong,' 
he said gravely, though a smile was in the eyes, ' the 
passwords that I now give you : Humanity and 
Civilization.' 

' I'll try.' 

They shook hands warmly enough. 

' Come home by this steamer if you can,' he called 
down from the deck. ' And keep to the middle of 
the road on your way back to the hotel. It's safer 
in a town like this.' O'Malley divined the twinkle 
in his eyes as he said it. ' Forgive my many sins,' 
he heard finally, * and when we meet again, tell me 
your own. . . .' The darkness took the sentence. 
But the word the Irishman took home with him to 
the little hotel was the single one — Civilization : and 
this, owing to the peculiar significance of intonation 
and accent with which this bewildering and self-con- 
tradictory being had uttered it. 



XXVI 

He walked along the middle of the street as Stahl 
had advised. He would have done so in any case, 
unconsciously, for he knew these towns quite as well 
as the German did. Yet he did not walk alone. 
The entire Earth walked with him, and personal 
danger was an impossibility. A dozen ruffians 
might attack him, but none could 'take' his life. 

How simple it all seemed, yet how utterly beyond 
the reach of intelligible description to those who 
have never felt it — this sudden surge upwards, down- 
wards, all around and about of the vaster conscious- 
ness amid which the sense of normal individuality 
seemed but a tiny focussed point. That loss of 
personality he first dreaded as an * inner catastrophe ' 
appeared to him now for what it actually was — 
merely an extinction of some phantasmal illusion of 
self into the only true life. Here, upon the fringe 
of this wonder-region of the Caucasus, the spirit of 
the Earth still manifested as of old, reached out 
lovingly to those of her children who were simple 
enough to respond, ready to fold them in and heal 
them of the modern, racking fevers which must 
otherwise destroy them. . . . The entire sky of soft 
darkness became a hand that covered him, and 
stroked him into peace ; the perfume that wafted 
down that narrow street beside him was the single, 

192 



XXVI THE CENTAUR 193 

enveloping fragrance of the whole wide Earth herself; 
he caught the very murmur of her splendid journey 
through the stars. The certitude of some state of 
boundless being flamed, roaring and immense, about 
his soul. . . . 

And when he reached his room, a little cell that 
shut out light and air, he met that sinister denial of 
the simple life which, for him at least, was the true 
Dweller on the Threshold. Crashing in to it he 
choked, as it were, and could have cried aloud. It 
gripped and caught him by the throat — the word 
that Stahl — Stahl who understood even while he 
warned and mocked and hesitated himself — had flung 
so tauntingly upon him from the decks — Civilization. 

Upon his table lay by chance — the Armenian 
hotel-keeper had evidently unearthed it for his 
benefit — a copy of a London halfpenny paper, a 
paper that feeds the public with the ugliest details of 
all the least important facts of life by the yard, 
inventing others when the supply is poor. He read 
it over vaguely, with a sense of cold distress that 
was half pain, half nausea. Somehow it stirred his 
sense of humour ; he returned slowly to his normal, 
littler state. But it was not the contrast which made 
him smile ; rather was it the chance juxtaposition of 
certain of the contents ; for on the page facing the 
accounts of railway accidents, of people burned alive, 
explosions, giant strikes, crumpled air-men and other 
countless horrors which modern inventions off*ered 
upon the altar of feverish Progress, he read a com- 
placently boastful leader that extolled the conquest 
of Nature men had learned hy speed. The ability 
to pass from one point to another across the skin of 
the globe in the least possible time was sign of the 
development of the human soul. 



194 THE CENTAUR xxvi 

The pompous flatulence of the language touched 
bathos. He thought of the thousands who had read 
both columns and preened themselves upon that 
leader. He thought how they would pride themselves 
upon the latest contrivance for speeding their inert 
bodies from one point to another * annihilating 
distance ' ; upon being able to get from suburbia to 
the huge shops that created artificial wants, then filled 
them ; from the pokey villas with their wee sham 
gardens to the dingy offices ; from dark airless East 
End rooms to countless factories that pour out semi- 
fraudulent, unnecessary wares upon the world, ex- 
plosives and weapons to destroy another nation, or 
cheapjack goods to poison their own — all in a few 
minutes less than they could do it the week 
before. 

And then he thought of the leisure of the country 
folk and of those who knew how to be content 
without external possessions, to watch the sunset and 
the dawn with hearts that sought realities ; sharing 
the noble slowness of the seasons, the gradual growth 
of flowers, trees, and crops, the unhurried dignity of 
Nature's grand procession, the repose-in-progress of 
the Mother-Earth. 

The calmness of the unhastening Earth once more 
possessed his soul in peace. He hid the paper, 
watching the quiet way the night beyond his window 
buried it from sight. . . . 

And through that open window came the perfume 
and the mighty hand of darkness slowly. It seemed 
to this imaginative Irishman that he caught a sound 
of awful laughter from the mountains and the sea, a 
laughter that brought, too, a wave of sighing— of 
deep and old-world sighing. 

And before he went to sleep he took an antidote 



XXVI THE CENTAUR 195 

in the form of a page from that book that accom- 
panied all his travels, a book which was written 
wholly in the open air because its message refused to 
come to the heart of the inspired writer within doors, 
try as he would, the ' sky especially containing for me 

the key, the inspiration ' 

And the fragment that he read expressed a little 
bit of his own thought and feeling. The seer who 
wrote it looked ahead, naming it 'After Civilization,' 
whereas he looked back. But they saw the same 
vision ; the confusion of time was nothing : — 

In the first soft winds of spring, while snow yet lay on the 

ground — 
Forth from the city into the great woods wandering, 
Into the great silent white woods where they waited in their 

beauty and majesty 
For man their companion to come : 

There, in vision, out of the wreck of cities and civilizations. 
Slowly out of the ruins of the past 

Out of the litter and muck of a decaying world, 

Lo ! even so 

I saw a new life arise. 

sound of waters, jubilant, pouring, pouring — O hidden song in 

the hollows ! 

Secret of the Earth, swelling, sobbing to divulge itself! 

Slowly, building, lifting itself up atom by atom. 

Gathering itself round a new centre — or rather round the world- 
old centre once more revealed — 

1 saw a new life, a new society, arise. 

Man I saw arising once more to dwell with Nature ; 
(The old old story — the prodigal son returning, so loved. 
The long estrangement, the long entanglement in vain things) — 
The child returning to its home — companion of the winter 

woods once more — 
Companion of the stars and waters — hearing their words at first- 
hand (more than all science ever taught) — 
The near contact, the dear dear mother so close — the twilight 
sky and the young tree-tops against it ; 



196 THE CENTAUR xxvi 

The few needs, the exhilarated radiant life — the food and 
population question giving no more trouble ; 

No hurry more, no striving one to over-ride the other : 

. . . man the companion of Nature. 

Civilization behind him now — the wonderful stretch of the past ; 

Continents, empires, religions, wars, migrations — all gathered up 
in him ; 

The immense knowledge, the vast winged powers — to use or 
not to use — . . . 

And as he fell asleep at length it seemed there 
came a sound of hushed huge trampling underneath 
his window, and that when he rose to listen, his big 
friend from the steamer led him forth into the 
darkness, that those shapes of Cloud and Wind he now 
so often saw, companioned them across the heights of 
the night towards some place in the distant mountains 
where light and flowers were, and all his dream of 
years most exquisitely fulfilled. . . . 

He slept. And through his sleep there dropped 
the words of that old tribesman from the wilderness : 
* They come in the spring . . . and are very swift 
and roaring. They are older, older than the stones. 
They cannot die . . . they are of the mountains, 
and you must hide.' 

But the dream-consciousness knows no hiding ; 
and though memory failed to report with detail in 
the morning, O'Malley woke refreshed and blessed, 
knowing that companionship awaited him, and that 
once he found the courage to escape completely, the 
Simple Life of Earth would claim him in full 
consciousness. 

Stahl with his little modern ' Intellect ' was no 
longer there to hinder and prevent. 



XXVII 

' Far, very far, steer by my star, 

Leaving the loud world's hurry and clamour, 

In the mid-sea waits you, maybe. 

The Isles of Glamour, where Beauty reigns. 

From coasts of commerce and myriad-marted 

Towns of traffic by wide seas parted, 

Past shoals unmapped and by reefs uncharted. 

The single-hearted my isle attains. 

' Each soul may find faith to her mind, 

Seek you the peace of the groves Elysian, 

Or the ivy twme and the wands of vine, 

The Dionysian, Orphic rite ? 

To share the joy of the Maenad's leaping 

In frenzied train thro' the dusk glen sweeping, 

The dew-drench'd dance and the star-watch'd sleeping. 

Or temple keeping in vestal white ? 

' Ye who regret suns that have set, 
Lo, each god of the ages golden, 
Here is enshrined, ageless and kind, 
Unbeholden the dark years through. 
Their faithful oracles yet bestowing. 
By laurels whisper and clear streams flowing, 
Or the leafy stir of the Gods* own going, 
In oak trees blowing, may answer you ! ' 

From Peregrina's Song. 

For the next month Terence O'Malley possessed his 
soul in patience ; he worked, and the work saved 
him. That is to say it enabled him to keep what 
men call ' balanced.' Stahl had — whether intention- 
ally or not he was never quite certain — raised a 
tempest in him. More accurately, perhaps, he had 

197 



198 THE CENTAUR xxvii 

called it to the top, for it had been raging deep 
down ever since he could remember, or had begun 
to think. 

That the earth might be a living, sentient 
organism, though too vast to be envisaged as such 
by normal human consciousness, had always been a 
tenet of his imagination's creed. Now he knew it 
true, as a dinner-gong is true. That deep yearnings, 
impossible of satisfaction in the external conditions of 
ordinary life, could know subjective fulfilment in the 
mind, had always been for him poetically true, as for 
any other poet : now he realized that it was literally 
true for some outlying tract of consciousness usually 
inactive, termed by some transliminal. Spiritual 
nostalgia provided the channel, and the transfer of 
consciousness to this outlying tract, involving, of 
course, a trance condition of the usual self, indicated 
the way — that was all. 

Again, his mystical temperament had always seen 
objects as forces which from some invisible centre 
push outwards into visible shape — as bodies : bodies 
of trees, stones, flowers, men, women, animals ; and 
others but partially pushed outwards, still invisible 
to limited physical sight at least, either too huge, too 
small, or too attenuated for vision. Whereas now, 
as a result of Stahl and Fechner combined, it flamed 
into him that this was positively true ; more — that 
there was a point in his transliminal consciousness 
where he might ' contact ' these forces before they 
reached their cruder external expression as bodies. 
Nature, in this sense, had always been for him alive, 
though he had allowed himself the term by a long 
stretch of poetic sympathy ; but now he knew that 
it was actually true, because objects, landscapes, 
humans, and the rest, were verily aspects of the 



XXVII THE CENTAUR 199 

collective consciousness of the Earth, moods of her 
spirit, phases of her being, expressions of her deep, 
pure, passionate ' heart * — projections of herself. 

He pondered lingeringly over this. Common 
words revealed their open faces to him. He 
saw the ideas behind language, saw them naked. 
Repetition had robbed them of so much that now 
became vital, like Bible phrases that too great 
familiarity in childhood kills for all subsequent life 
as meaningless. His eyes were opened perhaps. 
He took a flower into his mind and thought about 
it ; really thought ; meditated lovingly. A flower 
was literally projected by the earth so far as its form 
was concerned. Its roots gathered soil and earth- 
matter, changing them into leaves and blossoms ; its 
leaves again, took of the atmosphere, also a part of the 
earth. It was projected by the earth, born of her, 
fed by her, and at ' death ' returned into her. But 
this was its outward and visible form only. The 
flower, for his imaginative mind, was a force made 
visible as literally as a house was a force the mind of 
the architect made visible. In the mind, or con- 
sciousness of the Earth this flower first lay latent as 
a dream. Perhaps, in her consciousness, it nested as 
that which in us corresponds to a little thought. . . . 
And from this he leaped, as the way ever was with 
him, to bigger * projections ' — trees, atmosphere, 
clouds, winds, some visible, some invisible, and so to 
a deeper yet simpler comprehension of Fechner's 
thundering conception of human beings as pro- 
jections. Was he, then, literally, a child of the 
Earth, mothered by the whole magnificent planet .? . . . 
All the world akin — that seeking for an eternal home 
in every human heart explained ? . . . And were 
there — had there been rather — these other, vaster 



200 THE CENTAUR xxvii 

projections Stahl had adumbrated with his sudden 
borrowed stretch of vision — forces, thoughts, moods 
of her hidden life invisible to sight, yet able to be felt 
and known interiorly ? 

That ' the gods ' were definitely knowable Powers, 
accessible to any genuine worshipper, had ever 
haunted his mind, thinly separated only from definite 
belief : now he understood that this also had been 
true, though only partially divined before. For now 
he saw them as the rare expressions of the Earth's 
in the morning of her life. That he might ever 
come to know them close made him tremble with a 
fearful joy, the idea flaming across his being with a 
dazzling brilliance that brought him close to that 
state of consciousness termed ecstasy. And that 
in certain unique beings, outwardly human like his 
friend, there might still survive some primitive 
expression of the Earth-Soul, lesser than the gods, 
and intermediate as it were, became for him now a 
fact — wondrous, awe-inspiring, even holy, but still a 
fact that he could grasp. 

He had found one such ; and Stahl, by warnings 
that fought with urging invitation at the same time, 
had confirmed it. 

It was singular, he reflected, how worship had ever 
turned for him a landscape or a scene enchantingly 
alive. Worship, he now understood, of course 
invited ' the gods,' and was the channel through 
which their manifestation became possible to the 
soul. All the gods, then, were accessible in this 
interior way, but Pan especially — in desolate places 
and secret corners of a wood. . . . He remembered 
dimly the Greek idea of worship in the Mysteries : 
that the worshipper knew actual temporary union 
with his deity in ecstasy, and at death went perma- 



XXVII THE CENTAUR 201 

nently into his sphere of being. He understood 
that worship was au fond a desire for loss of personal 
life — hence its subtle joy ; and a fear lest it be 
actually accomplished — whence its awe and wonder. 

Some glorious, winged thing moved now beside 
him ; it held him by the hand. The Earth possessed 
him; and the whole adventure, so far as he can 
make it plain, was an authoritative summons to the 
natural. Simple Life. 

For the next month, therefore, O'Malley, un- 
hurrying, blessed with a deeper sense of happiness 
than he had ever known before, dismissed the 
' tempest ' from his surface consciousness, and set to 
work to gather the picturesque impressions of 
strange places and strange peoples that the public 
liked to read about in occasional letters of travel. 
And by the time May had passed into June he had 
moved up and down the Caucasus, observing, learning, 
expanding, and gathering in the process through 
every sense — through the very pores of his skin 
almost — draughts of a new and abundant life that is 
to be had there merely for the asking. 

That modification of the personality which comes 
even in cities to all but the utterly hidebound 
— so that a man in Rome finds himself not quite the 
same as he was in London or in Paris a few days 
before — went forward in him on a profounder scale 
than anything he had known hitherto. Nature fed, 
stimulated and called him with a passionate intimacy 
that destroyed all sense of loneliness, and with a 
vehement directness of attack that simply charged 
him to the brim with a new joy of living. His 
vitality, powers, even his physical health, stood at 
their best and highest. The country laid its spell 



202 THE CENTAUR xxvii 

upon him, in a word ; and if he expresses it thus 
with some intensity it was because life came to him 
so. His record is the measure of his vision. Those 
who find exaggeration in it merely confess thereby 
their own smaller capacity of living. 

Here, as he wandered to and fro among these 
proud, immense, secluded valleys, through remote 
and untamed forests, and by the banks of wild rivers 
that shook their flying foam across untrodden banks, 
he wandered at the same time deeper and ever 
deeper into himself, towards a point where he lost 
touch with all that constituted him ' modern,' or held 
him captive in the spirit of to-day. Nearer and ever 
nearer he moved into some tremendous freedom, 
some state of innocence and simplicity that, while 
gloriously unrestrained, yet knew no touch of license. 
Dreams had whispered of it ; childhood had fringed 
its frontiers ; longings had even mapped it faintly to 
his mind. But now he breathed its very air and 
knew it face to face. The Earth surged wonderfully 
about him. 

With his sleeping-bag upon a small Caucasian 
horse, a sack to hold his cooking things, a pistol in 
his belt, he wandered thus for days, sleeping beneath 
the stars, seeing the sunset and the dawn, drenched 
in new strength and wonder all the time. Here he 
touched deeper reaches of the Earth that spoke of 
old, old things, that yet were still young because they 
knew not change. He walked in the morning of the 
world, through her primal fire and dew, when all was 
a first and giant garden. 

The advertised splendours of other lands, even of 
India, Egypt, and the East, seemed almost vulgar 
beside this country that had somehow held itself aloof, 
unstained and clean. The civilization of its little 



xxvir THE CENTAUR 203 

towns seemed but a coated varnish that an hour's sun 
would melt away ; the railway, crawling along the 
flanks of the great range, but a ribbon of old iron 
pinned on that, with the first shiver of those giant 
sides, would split and vanish. 

Here, where the Argonauts once landed, the 
Golden Fleece still shone o' nights in the depths of 
the rustling beech woods ; along the shores of that 
old Phasis their figures might still be seen, tall Jason 
in the lead, erect and silvery, passing o'er the shining, 
flowered fields upon their quest of ancient beauty. 
Further north from this sunny Colchian strand rose 
the peak of Kasbek, gaunt and desolate pyramid of 
iron, ' sloping through five great zones of climate,' 
whence the ghost of Prometheus still gazed down from 
his * vast frozen precipice ' upon a world his courage 
would redeem. For somewhere here was the cradle 
of the human race, fair garden of some Edened life 
before the ' Fall,' when the Earth sang for joy in 
her first, golden youth, and her soul expressed itself 
in mighty forms that remain for lesser days but a 
faded hierarchy of visioned gods. 

A living Earth went with him everywhere, with 
love that never breathed alarm. It seemed he felt 
her very thoughts within himself — thoughts, however, 
that now no longer married with a visible expression 
as shapes. 

Among these old-world tribes and peoples with 
their babble of difficult tongues, wonder and beauty, 
terror and worship, still lay too deeply buried to 
have as yet externalized themselves in mental forms as 
legend, myth, and story. In the blood ran all their 
richness undiluted. Life was simple, full charged 
with an immense delight. At home little cocksure 
writers in little cocksure journals, pertly modern and 



204 THE CENTAUR xxvn 

enlightened, might dictate how far imaginative vision 
and belief could go before they overstepped the 
limits of an artificial schedule ; but here ' everything 
possible to be believed was still an image of truth,* 
and the stream of life flowed deeper than all mere 
intellectual denials. 

A little out of sight, but thinly veiled, the powers 
that in this haunted corner of the earth, too strangely 
neglected, pushed outwards into men and trees, into 
mountains, flowers, and the rest, were unenslavcd 
and intensely vital. In his blood O'Malley knew the 
primal pulses of the world. 

It was irresistibly seductive. Whether he slept 
with the Aryan Ossetines upon the high ridges of 
the central range, or shared the stone huts of the 
mountain Jews, unchanged since Bible days, beyond 
the Suram heights, there came to all his senses the 
message of that Golden Age his longings ever sought 
— the rush and murmur of the Urwelt calling. 

And so it was, about the first week in June that 
lean, bronzed, and in perfect physical condition, this 
wandering Irishman found himself in a little 
Swanetian hamlet beyond Alighir, preparing with a 
Georgian peasant-guide to penetrate yet deeper into 
the mountain recesses and feed his heart with what 
he found of loneliness and beauty. 

This region of Imerethia, bordering on Mingrelia, 
is smothered beneath an exuberance of vegetation 
almost tropical, blue and golden with enormous 
flowers, tangled with wild vines, rich with towering 
soft beech woods, and finally, in the upper sections, 
ablaze with leagues of huge rhododendron trees in 
blossom that give whole mountain-sides the aspect of 
a giant garden, flowering amid peaks that even dwarf 



XXVII THE CENTAUR 205 

the Alps. For here the original garden of the world 
survives, run wild with pristine loveliness. The 
prodigality of Nature is bewildering, almost troubling. 
There are valleys, rarely entered by the foot of man, 
where monstrous lilies, topping a man on foot and 
even reaching to his shoulder on horseback, have 
suggested to botanists in their lavish luxuriance a 
survival of the original flora of the world. A 
thousand flowers he found whose names he had never 
heard of, their hues and forms as strangely lovely as 
those of another planet. The grasses alone in scale 
and mass were magnificent. While, in and out of all 
this splendour, less dense and voluminous only than 
the rhododendron forests, ran scattered lines of 
blazing yellow — the crowding clusters of azalea bushes 
that scented the winds beyond belief. 

Beyond this region of extravagance in size and 
colour, there ran immense bare open slopes of smooth 
turf that led to the foot of the eternal snow-fields, 
with, far below, valleys of prodigious scale and steep- 
ness that touched somehow with disdain all memory 
of other mountain ranges he had ever known. 

And here it was this warm June evening — June 
1 5th it was — while packing his sack with cheese and 
maize-flour in the dirty yard of a so-called 'post-house,' 
more hindered than helped by his Georgian guide, 
that he realized the approach of a familiar, bearded 
figure. The figure emerged. There was a sudden 
clutch and lift of the heart . . . then a rush of wild 
delight There stood his Russian steamer -friend, 
part of the scale and splendour, as though grown out 
of the very soil. He occupied in a flash the middle 
of the picture. He gave it meaning. He was part 
of it, exactly as a tree or big grey boulder were part 
of it. 



XXVIII 

'Seasons and times; Life and Fate — all are remarkable, rhythmic, 
metric, regular throughout. In all crafts and arts, in all machines, 
in organic bodies, in our daily occupations, everywhere there is 
rhythm, metre, accent, melody. All that we do with a certain skill 
unnoticed, we do rhythmically. There is rhythm everywhere ; it 
insinuates itself everywhere. All mechanism is metric, rhythmic. 
There must be more in it than this. Is it merely the influence of 
inertia ?' — NovALis. Translated by U. C. B. 

Notwithstanding the extent and loneliness of this 
wild country, coincidence seemed in no way stretched 
by the abrupt appearance ; for in a sense it was not 
wholly unexpected. There had been certain indica- 
tions that the meeting again of these two was 
imminent. The Irishman had never doubted they 
would meet. But something more than mere hints 
or warnings, it seemed, had prepared him. 

The nature of these warnings, however, O'Malley 
never fully disclosed. Two of them he told to me 
by word of mouth, but there were others he could 
not bring himself to speak about at all. Even the 
two he mentioned do not appear in his written 
account. His hesitation is not easy to explain, 
unless it be that language collapsed in the attempt 
to describe occurrences so remote from common 
experience. This may be so, although he grappled 
not unsuccessfully with the rest of the amazing 
adventure. At any rate I could never coax from 

206 



XXVIII THE CENTAUR 207 

him more than the confession that there were other 
things that had brought him hints. Then came a 
laugh, a shrug of the shoulders, an expression of 
confused bewilderment in eyes and manner and — 
silence. 

The two he spoke of I report as best I can. On 
the roof of that London apartment-house where so 
many of our talks took place beneath the stars and 
to the tune of bustling modern traffic, he told them 
to me. Both were consistent with his theory that 
he was becoming daily more active in some out- 
lying portion of his personality — knowing experiences 
in a region of extended consciousness stimulated 
so powerfully by his strange new friend. 

Both, moreover, brought him one and the same 
conviction that he was no longer — alone. For some 
days past he had realized this. More than his 
peasant guide accompanied him. He was both com- 
panioned and — observed. 

* A dozen times,' he said, ' I thought I saw him, 
and a dozen times I was mistaken. But my mind 
looked for him. I knew that he was somewhere 
close.' He compared the feeling to that common 
experience of the streets when a friend, not known 
to be near, or even expected, comes abruptly into 
the thoughts, so that numberless individuals may 
trick the sight with his appearance before he himself 
comes suddenly down the pavement. His approach 
has reached the mind before his mere body turns 
the corner. ' Something in me was aware of his 
approach,' he added, 'as though his being were 
sending out feelers in advance to find me. They 
reached me first, I think ' — he hesitated briefly, 
hunting for a more accurate term he could not find 
— ' in dream.' 



2o8 THE CENTAUR xxviii 

* You dreamed that he was coming, then ? ' 

' It came first in dream,' he answered ; * only 
when I woke the dream did not fade ; it passed 
over into waking consciousness, so that I could 
hardly tell where the threshold lay between the two. 
And, meanwhile, I was always expecting to see him 
— at every turn of the trail almost ; a little higher 
up the mountain, behind a rock, or standing beside 
a tree, just as in the end I actually did see him. 
Long before he emerged in this way, he had been 
close about me, guiding, waiting, watching,' 

He told it as a true thing he did not quite 
expect me to believe. Yet, in a sense, his sense, 
I could and did believe it. It was so wholly con- 
sistent with the tenor of his adventure and the 
condition of abnormal receptivity of mind. For 
his stretched consciousness was in a state of white 
sensitiveness whereon the tenderest mental force of 
another's thought might well record its signature. 
Acutely impressionable he was all over. Physical 
distance was of as little, or even of less, account to 
such forces as it is to electricity. 

' But it was more than the Russian who was 
close,* he added quietly with one of those sentences 
that startled me into keen attention. ' He was 
there — with others — of his kind.' 

And then, hardly pausing to take breath, he 
plunged, as his manner was, full tilt into the details 
of this first experience that thrilled my hedging soul 
with an astonishing power of conviction. As always 
when his heart was in the words, the scenery about 
us faded and I lived the adventure with him. The 
cowled and hooded chimneys turned to trees, the 
stretch of dim star-lit London Park became a deep 
Caucasian vale, the thunder of the traffic was the 



XXVIII THE CENTAUR 209 

roaring of the snow-fed torrents. The very perfume 
of strange flowers floated in the air. 

They had been in their blankets, he and his 
peasant guide, for hours, and a moon approaching 
the full still concealed all signs of dawn, when he 
woke out of deep sleep with the odd sensation that 
it was only a part of him that woke. One portion 
of him was in the body, while another portion was 
elsewhere, manifesting with ease and freedom in some 
state or region whither he had travelled in his sleep 
— where, moreover, he had not been alone. 

And close about him in the trees was — movement. 
Yes ! Through and between the scattered trunks 
he saw it still. 

With eyes a little dazed, the active portion of 
his brain perceived this processing movement passing 
to and fro across the glades of moonlight beneath the 
steady trees. For there was no wind. The shadows 
of the branches did not stir. He saw swift running 
shapes, vigorous yet silent, hurrying across the net- 
work of splashed silver and pools of black in some 
kind of organized movement that was circular and 
seemed not due to chance. Arranged it seemed and 
ordered ; like the regulated revolutions of a set and 
whirling measure. 

Perhaps twenty feet from where he lay was the 
outer fringe of what he discerned to be this fragment 
of some grand gambolling dance or frolic ; yet 
discerned but dimly, for the darkness combined with 
his uncertain vision to obscure it. 

And the shapes, as they sped across the silvery 
patchwork of the moon, seemed curiously familiar. 
Beyond question he recognized and knew them. 
For they were akin to those shadowy emanations 
seen weeks ago upon the steamer's after-deck, to 

p 



2IO THE CENTAUR xxviii 

that * messenger ' who climbed from out the sea and 
sky, and to that form the spirit of the boy assumed, 
set free in death. They were the flying outHnes 
of Wind and Cloud he had so often glimpsed in 
vision, racing over the long, bare, open hills — at 
last come near. 

In the moment of first waking, when he saw 
them clearest, he declares with emphasis that he knew 
the father and the boy were among them. Not so 
much that he saw them actually for recognition, 
but rather that he felt their rushing presences ; for 
the first sensation on opening his eyes was the con- 
viction that both had passed him close, had almost 
touched and called him. Afterwards he searched in 
vain among the flying forms that swept in the swift 
succession of their leaping dance across the silvery 
pathways. While varying in size all were so similar. 

His description of them is confused a little, for 
he admits that he could never properly focus them 
in steady sight. They slipped with a melting swift- 
ness under the eye ; the moment one seemed caught 
in vision it passed on further and the next was in 
its place. It was like following a running wave- 
form on the sea. He says, moreover, that while 
erect and splendid, their backs and shoulders seemed 
prolonged in hugeness as though they often crouched 
to spring ; they seemed to paw the air ; and that 
a faint delicious sound to which they kept obedient 
time and rhythm, held that same sweetness which 
had issued from the hills of Greece, blown down 
now among the trees from very far away. And 
when he says ' blown down among the trees,' he 
qualifies this phrase as well, because at the same 
time it came to him that the sound also rose up 
from underneath the earth, as if the very surface 



XXVIII THE CENTAUR 211 

of the ground ran shaking with a soft vibration of 
its own. Some marvellous dream it might have been 
in which the forms, the movement, and the sound 
were all thrown up and outwards from the quivering 
surface of the Earth itself. 

Yet, almost simultaneously with the first instant 
of waking, the body issued its call of warning. 
For, while he gazed, and before time for the least 
reflection came, the Irishman experienced this dis- 
locating conviction that he himself was taking part 
in the whirling gambol even while he lay and watched 
it, and that in this way the sense of division in his 
personality was explained. The fragment of himself 
within the brain watched some other more vital 
fragment — some projection of his consciousness 
detached and separate — playing yonder with its kind 
beneath the moon. 

This sense of a divided self was not new to him, 
but never before had he known it so distinct and 
overwhelming. The definiteness of the division, as 
well as the importance and vitality of the separated 
portion, were arrestingly novel. It felt as though he 
were completely out, or to such a degree, at least, 
that the fraction left behind with the brain was at 
first only just sufficient for him to recognize his 
body at all. 

Yonder with these others he felt the wind of 
movement pass along his back, he saw the trees slip 
by, and knew the very contact of the ground between 
the leaps. His movements were natural and easy, 
light as air and fast as wind ; they seemed automatic, 
impelled by something mighty that directed and 
contained them. He knew, too, the sensation that 
others pressed behind him and passed before, slipped 
in and out, and that through the whole wild urgency 



212 THE CENTAUR xxviii 

of it he yet could never make an error. More — he 
knew that these shifting forms had been close and 
dancing about him for a time not measurable merely 
by the hours of a single night, that in a sense they 
were always there though he had but just discovered 
them. His earlier glimpses had been a very partial 
divination of a truth, immense and beautiful, that 
now dawned quite gorgeously upon him all complete. 

The whole world danced. The Universe was 
rhythmical as well as metrical. 

For this amazing splendour showed itself in a 
flash-like revelation to the freed portion of his con- 
sciousness, and he knew it irresistibly because he 
himself shared it. Here was an infinite joy, naked 
and unashamed, born of the mighty Mother's heart 
and life, a joy which, in its feebler, lesser manifesta- 
tions, trickles down into human conditions, though 
still spontaneously even then, so pure its primal 
urgency as — dancing. 

The entire experience, the entire revelation, he 
thinks, can have occupied but a fraction of a second, 
but it seemed to smite the whole of his being at once 
with the conviction of a supreme authority. And 
close behind it came, too, that other sister expression 
of a spontaneous and natural expression, equally 
rhythmical — the impulse to sing. He could have 
sung aloud. For this puissant and mysterious 
rhythm to which all moved was greater than any 
little measure of their own. Surging through them, 
it came from outside and beyond, infinitely greater 
than themselves, springing from something of which 
they were, nevertheless, a living portion. From the 
body of the Earth it came direct — it was in fact a 
manifestation of her own vibrating life. The 
currents of the Earth pulsed through them. 



XXVIII THE CENTAUR 213 

* And then,' he says, ' I caught this flaming 
thought of wonder, though so much of it faded 
instantly upon my full awakening that I can only 
give you the merest suggestion of what it was.' 

He stood up beside me as he said it, spreading 
his arms, as so often when he was excited, to the sky. 
I caught the glow of his eyes, and in his voice was 
passion. He spoke unquestionably of something he 
had intimately known, not as men speak of even the 
vividest dreams, but of realities that have burned the 
heart and left their trails of glory. 

'Science has guessed some inkling of the truth,' 
he cried, 'when it declares that the ultimate molecules 
of matter are in constant vibratory movement one 
about another, even upon the point of a needle. 
But I saw — knew, rather, as if I had always known 
it, sweet as summer rain, and close in me as love — 
that the whole Earth with all her myriad expressions 
of life moved to this primal rhythm as of some divine 
dancing.' 

' Dancing ! ' I asked, puzzled. 

' Rhythmical movement call it then,' he replied. 
' To share the life of the Earth is to dance and sing 
in a huge abundant joy ! And the nearer to her 
great heart, the more natural and spontaneous the 
impulse — the instinctive dancing of primitive races, 
of savages and children, still artless and untamed ; 
the gambolling of animals, of rabbits in the meadows 
and of deer unwatched in forest clearings — you know 
naturahsts have sometimes seen it ; of birds in the air 
— rooks, gulls, and swallows ; of the life within the 
sea ; even of gnats in the haze of summer afternoons. 
All life simple, enough to touch and share the 
enormous happiness of her deep, streaming, personal 
Being, dances instinctively for very joy — obedient to 



214 THE CENTAUR xxvni 

a greater measure than they know. . . . The natural 
movement of the great Earth -Soul is rhythmical. 
The very winds, the swaying of trees and flowers 
and grasses, the movement of the sea, of water run- 
ning through the fields with silver feet, of the clouds 
and edges of the mist, even the trembling of the 
earthquakes, — all, all respond in sympathetic motions 
to this huge vibratory movement of her great central 
pulse. Ay, and the mountains too, though so vastly 
scaled their measure that perhaps we only know the 
pauses in between, and think them motionless. . . . 
The mountains rise and fall and change ; our very 
breathing, first sign of stirring life, even the circula- 
tion of our blood, bring testimony ; our speech as 
well — inspired words are ever rhythmical, language 
that pours into the poet's mind from something 
greater than himself. And not unwisely, but in 
obedience to a deep instinctive knowledge was 
dancing once — in earlier, simpler days — a form of 
worship. You know, at least, how rhythm in music 
and ceremonial uplifts and cleans and simplifies the 
heart towards the greater life. . . . You know, 
perhaps, the Dance of Jesus. . . .' 

The words poured from him with passion, yet 
always uttered gently with a smile of joy upon the 
face. I saw his figure standing over me, outlined 
against the starry sky ; and, deeply stirred, I listened 
with delight and wonder. Rhythm surely lies behind 
all expression of life. He was on the heels of some 
simple, dazzling verity though he phrased it wildly. 
But not a tenth part of all he said could I recapture 
afterwards for writing down. The steady, gentle 
swaying of his body I remember clearly, and that 
somewhere or other in the stream of language, he 
made apt reference to the rhythmical swaying of 



XXVIII THE CENTAUR 215 

those who speak in trance, or know some strange, 
possessing gust of inspiration. 

The first and natural expression of the Earth's 
vitality lies in a dancing movement of purest joy and 
happiness — that for me is the gist of what remains. 
Those near enough to Nature feel it. I myself 
remembered days in spring . . . my thoughts, borne 
upon some sweet emotion, travelled far. . . . 

* And not of the Earth alone,' he interrupted my 
dreaming in a voice like singing, ' but of the entire 
Universe. The spheres and constellations weave 
across the fields of ether the immense old rhythm of 
their divine, eternal dance . . . ! ' 

Then, with a disconcerting abruptness, and a 
strange little wayward laugh as of apology for having 
let himself so freely go, he sat down beside me with 
his back against the chimney-stack. He resumed 
more quietly the account of this particular adventure 
that lay 'twixt dream and waking : 

All that he described had happened in a few 
seconds. It flashed, complete, authoritative and 
vivid, then passed away. He knew again the call 
and warning of his body — to return. For this 
consciousness of being in two places at once, divided 
as it were against himself, brought with it the 
necessity for decision. With which portion should 
he identify himself .f* By an act of will, it seemed, a 
choice was possible. 

And with it, then, came the knowledge that to 
remain ' out ' was easier than to return. This time, 
to come back into himself would be difficult. 

The very possibility seemed to provide the 
shock of energy necessary for overcoming it ; the 
experience alarmed him ; it was like holding an 



2i6 THE CENTAUR xxviii 

option upon living — like a foretaste of death. 
Automatically, as it were, these loosened forces in 
him answered to the body's summons. The result 
was immediate and singular ; one of these Dancing 
Outlines separated itself from the main herd, 
approached with a sudden silent rush, enveloped him 
for a second of darkness and confusion, losing its 
shape completely on the way, and then merged into 
his being as smoke slips in and merges with the 
structure of a tree. 

The projected portion of his personality had 
returned. The sense of division was gone. There 
remained behind only the little terror of the weak 
flesh whose summons had thus brought it back. 

The same instant he was fully awake — the night 
about him empty of all but the silver dreaming of 
the moon among the shadows. Beside him lay the 
sleeping figure of his companion, the bashlik of 
lamb's wool drawn closely down about the ears 
and neck, and the voluminous black bourka shroud- 
ing him from feet to shoulders. A little distance 
away the horse stood, munching grass. Again he 
noted that there was no wind, and the shadows of 
the trees lay motionless upon the ground. The air 
smelt sweet of forest, soil, and dew. 

The experience — it seemed now — belonged to 
dreaming rather than to waking consciousness, for 
there was nothing about him to confirm it outwardly. 
Only the memory remained — that, and a vast, deep- 
coursing, subtle happiness. The smaller terror that 
he felt was of the flesh alone, for the flesh ever 
instinctively fought against such separation. The 
happiness, though, contained and overwhelmed the 
fear. 

Yes, only the memory remained, and even 



XXVIII THE CENTAUR 217 

that fast fading. But the substance of what had 
been, passed into his inmost being : the splendour 
of that would remain for ever, incorporated with his 
life. He had shared in this brief moment of extended 
consciousness some measure of the Mother's cosmic 
being, simple as sunshine, unrestrained as wind, 
complete and satisfying. Its natural expression was 
rhythmical, a deep, pure joy that drove outwards 
even into little human conditions as dancing and 
singing. He had known it, too, with companions of 
his kind. . . . 

Moreover, though no longer visible or audible, 
it still continued somewhere close. He was 
blessedly companioned all the time — and watched. 
They knew him one of themselves — these brother 
expressions of her cosmic life — these JJrwelt beings 
that To-day had no external, bodily forms. They 
waited, knowing well that he would come. Fulfil- 
ment beckoned surely just beyond. . . . 



XXIX 

' . . . . And then suddenly, — 

While perhaps twice my heart was dutiful 

To send my blood upon its little race — 

I was exalted above surety, 

And out of Time did fall.' 

Lascell^s Abercrombie, Poems and Interludes. 
>r 

This, then, was one of the 'hints' by which 
O'Malley knew that he was not alone and that the 
mind of his companion was stretched out to find 
him. He became aware after it of a distinct 
guidance, even of direction as to his route of travel. 
The • impulse came,' as one says, to turn northwards, 
and he obeyed it without more ado. For this 
* dream ' had come to him when camped upon the 
slopes of Ararat, further south towards the Turkish 
frontier, and though all prepared to climb the 
sixteen-thousand foot summit, he changed his plans, 
dismissed the local guide, and turned back for Tiflis 
and the Central Range. In the wilder, lonelier moun- 
tains, he felt strongly, was where he ought to be. 

Another man, of course, would have dismissed 
the dream or forgotten it while cooking his morning 
coffee ; but, rightly or wrongly, this divining Celt 
accepted it as real. He held an instinctive belief, 
that in dreams of a certain order the forces that 
drive behind the soul at a given moment, may 
reveal themselves to the subconscious self, becom- 
ing authoritative in proportion as they are sanely 
encouraged and interpreted. They dramatize them- 

218 



XXIX THE CENTAUR 219 

selves in scenes that are open to intuitive interpreta- 
tion. And O'Malley, it seems, possessed, like the 
Hebrew prophets of old, just that measure of 
judgment and divination which go to the making of 
a true clear-vision. 

Packing up kit and dunnage, he crossed the 
Georgian Military Route on foot to Vladikavkaz, and 
thence with another horse and a Mohammedan 
Georgian as guide, Rostom by name, journeyed via 
Alighir and Oni up a side valley of unforgettable 
splendour towards an Imerethian hamlet where they 
meant to lay-in supplies for a prolonged expedition 
into the uninhabited wilderness. 

And here, the second occurrence he told me of 
took place. It was more direct than the first, yet 
equally strange ; also it brought a similar authority 
— coming first along the deep mysterious underpaths 
of sleep — sleep, that short cut into the subconscious. 

They were camped among low boxwood trees, a 
hot dry night, wind soft and stars very brilliant, 
when the Irishman turned in his sleeping-bag and 
abruptly woke. This time there was no dream — 
only the certainty that something had wakened him 
deliberately. He sat up, almost with a cry. It was 
exactly as though he heard himself called by name 
and recognized the voice that spoke it. He looked 
quickly round. Nothing but the crowding army of 
the box-trees was visible, some bushy and round, 
others straggling in their outline, all whispering 
gently together in the night. Beyond ran the 
immense slopes, and far overhead he saw the gleam- 
ing snow on peaks that brushed the stars. 

No one was visible. This time no flying figures 
danced beneath the moon. There was, indeed, no 



220 THE CENTAUR xxix 

moon. Something, however, he knew had come up 
close and touched him, calling him from the depths 
of a profound and tired slumber. It had withdrawn 
again, vanished into the night. The strong certainty 
remained, though, that it lingered near about him 
still, trying to press forwards and outwards into 
some kind of objective visible expression that 
included himself. He had responded with an effort 
in his sleep, but the effort had been unsuccessful. 
He had merely waked . . . and lost it. 

The horse, tethered a few feet away, was astir and 
troubled, straining at the rope, whinnying faintly, 
and Rostom, the Georgian peasant, he saw, was 
already up to quiet it. A curious perfume passed 
him through the air — once, then vanished ; unforget- 
table, however, for he had known it already weeks 
ago upon the steamer. And before the gardened 
woods about him smothered it with their richer 
smells of a million flowers and weeds, he recognized 
in it that peculiar pungent whiff of horse that had 
reached him from the haunted cabin. This time it 
was less fleeting — a fine, clean odour that he liked 
even while it strangely troubled him. 

Kicking out of his blankets, he joined the man 
and helped to straighten out the tangled rope. 
Rostom spoke little Russian, and O'Malley's know- 
ledge of Georgian lay in a single phrase, ' Look 
sharp ! ' but with the aid of French the man had 
learned from shooting -parties, he gathered that 
some one had approached during the night and 
camped, it seemed, not far away above them. 

Though unusual enough in so unfrequented a 
region, this was not necessarily alarming, and the 
first proof O'Malley had that the man experienced 
no ordinary physical fear was the fact that he had 



XXIX 



THE CENTAUR 221 



left both knife and rifle in his blankets. Hitherto, 
at the least sign of danger, he changed into a perfect 
arsenal ; he invariably slept * in his weapons ' ; but 
now, even in the darkness, the other noted that he was 
unarmed, and therefore it was no attempt at horse- 
stealing or of assault upon themselves he feared. 

' Who is it ? What is it ? ' he asked, stumbling 
over the tangle of string-like roots that netted the 
ground. ' Natives, travellers like ourselves, or — 
something else .? ' He spoke very low, as though 
aware that what had waked him still hovered close 
enough to overhear. ' Why do you fear ? ' 

And Rostom looked up a moment from stooping 
over the rope. He stepped a little nearer, avoiding 
the animal's hoofs. In a confused whisper of French 
and Russian, making at the same time the protective 
signs of his religion, he muttered a sentence of which 
the other caught little more than the unassuring word 
that something was about them close — something 
* mkhant.^ This curious, significant word he used. 

The whispered utterance, the manner that went 
with it, surely the dark and lonely setting of the 
little scene as well, served to convey the full sugges- 
tion of the adjective with a force the man himself 
could scarcely have intended. Something had passed 
by, not so much evil, wicked, or malign as strange 
and alien — uncanny. Rostom, a man utterly careless 
of physical danger, rising to it, rather, with delight, 
was frightened — in his soul. 

'What do you mean.?' O'Malley asked louder, 
with an air of impatience assumed. The man was 
on his knees, but whether praying, or merely 
struggling with the rope, was hard to see. ' What 
is it you're talking about so foolishly .? ' He spoke 
with a confidence he hardly felt himself. 



222 THE CENTAUR 



XXIX 



And the involved reply, spoken with lips against 
the earth, the head but slightly turned as he 
knelt, again smothered the words. Only the curious 
phrase came to him — * de I'ancien monde — quelque- 
chose ' 

The Irishman took him by the shoulders. Not 
meaning actually to shake him, he yet must have 
used some violence, for the fact was that he did not 
like the answers and sought to deny some strong 
emotion in himself. The man stood up abruptly 
with a kind of sudden spring. The expression of his 
face was not easily divined in the darkness, but a gleam 
of the eyes was clearly visible. It may have been 
anger, it may have been terror ; vivid excitement it 
certainly was. 

' Something — old as the stones, old as the stones,' 
he whispered, thrusting his dark bearded face un- 
pleasantly close. ' Such things are in these mountains. 
. . . Mais oui ! C'est moi qui vous le dis ! Old 
as the stones, I tell you. And sometimes they come 
out close — with sudden wind. We know ! ' 

He stepped back again sharply and dropped upon 
his knees, bowing to the ground with flattened palms. 
He made a repelling gesture as though it was 
O'Malley's presence that brought the experience. 

' And to see them is — to die ! ' he heard, muttered 
against the ground thickly. ' To see them is to die ! ' 

The Irishman went back to his sleeping-bag. 
Some strange passion of the man was deeply stirred ; 
he did not wish to offend his violent beliefs and turn 
it against himself in a stupid, scrambling fight. He 
lay and waited. He heard the muttering of the deep 
voice behind him in the darkness. Presently it ceased. 
Rostom came softly back to bed. 

' He knows ; he warned me ! ' he whispered, jerk- 



XXIX THE CENTAUR 223 

ing one hand towards the horse significantly, as they 
at length lay again side by side in their blankets 
and the stars shone down upon them from a deep 
black sky. * But, for the moment, they have passed, 
not finding us. No wind has come.' 

* Another — horse ? ' asked O'Malley suggestively, 
with a sympathy meant to quiet him. 

But the peasant shook his head ; and this time it 
was not difficult to divine the expression on his face 
even in the darkness. At the same moment the 
tethered animal again uttered a long whinnying cry, 
plaintive, yet of pleasure rather than alarm it seemed, 
which instantly brought the man again with a leap 
from the blankets to his knees. O'Malley did not 
go to help him ; he stuffed the clothes against his 
ears and waited ; he did not wish to hear the peasant's 
sentences. 

And this pantomime went on at intervals for an 
hour or more, when at length the horse grew quiet 
and O'Malley snatched moments of unrefreshing 
sleep. The night lay thick about them with a 
silence like the silence of the sky. The boxwood 
bushes ran together into a single sheet of black, the 
far peaks faded out of sight, the air grew keen and 
sharp towards the dawn on the wave of wind the 
sunrise drives before it round the world. But to 
and fro across the Irishman's mind as he lay between 
sleep and dozing ran the feeling that his friends were 
close, and that those dancing forms of cosmic life to 
which all three approximated had come near once 
more to summon him. He also knew that what 
the horse had felt was something far from terror. 
The animal instinctively had divined the presence of 
something to which it, too, was remotely kin. 

Rostom, however, remained keenly on the alert, 



224 THE CENTAUR xxix 

much of the time apparently praying. Not once did 
he touch the weapons that lay ready to hand upon 
the folded bourka . . . and when at last the dawn 
came, pale and yellow, through the trees, showing 
the outlines of the individual box and azalea bushes, 
he got up earlier than usual and began to make 
the fire for coffee. In the fuller light which soon 
poured swiftly over the eastern summits and dropped 
gold and silver into the tremendous valley at their 
feet, the men made a systematic search of the 
immediate surroundings, and then of the clearings 
and more open stretches beyond. In silence they 
made it. They found, however, no traces of another 
camping-party. And it was clear from the way they 
went about the search that neither expected to find 
anything. The ground was unbroken, the bushes 
undisturbed. 

Yet still, both knew. That ' something ' which 
the night had brought and kept concealed, still 
hovered close about them. 

And it was at this scattered hamlet, consisting of 
little more than a farm of sorts and a few shepherds' 
huts of stone, where they stopped two hours later 
for provisions, that O'Malley looked up thus 
suddenly and recognized the figure of his friend. 
He stood among the trees a hundred yards away. 
At first the other thought he was a tree — his stalwart 
form the stem, his hair and beard the branches — so 
big and motionless he stood between the other trunks. 
O'Malley saw him for a full minute before he under- 
stood. The man seemed so absolutely a part of the 
landscape, a giant detail in keeping with the rest — a 
detail that had suddenly emerged. 

The same moment a great draught of wind, rising 



XXIX THE CENTAUR 225 

from depths of the valley below, swept overhead 
vvith a roaring sound, shaking the beech and box 
trees and setting all the golden azalea heads in a 
sudden agitation. It passed as swiftly as it came. 
The peace of the June morning again descended on 
the mountains. 

It was broken by a wild, half-smothered cry, — a 
cry of genuine terror. 

For O'Malley had turned to Rostom with some 
word that here, in this figure, lay the explanation of 
the animal's excitement in the night, when he saw 
that the peasant, white as chalk beneath the tangle 
of black hair that covered his face, had stopped dead 
in his tracks. His mouth was open, his arms up- 
raised to shield ; he was staring fixedly in the same 
direction as himself. The next instant he was on his 
knees, bowing and scraping towards Mecca, groaning, 
hiding his eyes with both hands. The sack he held 
had toppled over ; the cheese and flour rolled upon 
the ground ; and from the horse came that long- 
drawn whinnying of the night. 

There was a momentary impression — entirely in 
the Irishman's mind, of course, — that the whole 
landscape veiled a giant, rushing movement that 
passed across it like a wave. The surface of the 
earth, it seemed, ran softly quivering, as though that 
wind had stirred response together with the trembling 
of the million leaves . . . before it settled back 
again to stillness. It passed in the flash of an eyelid. 
The earth lay tranquil in repose. 

But, though the suddenness of the stranger's 
arrival might conceivably have startled the ignorant 
peasant, with nerves already overwrought from the 
occurrence of the night, O'Malley was not prepared 
for the violence of the man's terror as shown by the 

Q 



226 THE CENTAUR xxix 

immediate sequel. For after several moments' prayer 
and prostration, with groans half smothered against 
the very ground, he sprang impetuously to his feet 
again, turned to his employer with eyes that gleamed 
wildly in that face of chalk, cried out — the voice 
thick with the confusion of his fear — ' It is the Wind ! 
They come ; from the mountains they come 1 Older 
than the stones they are. Save yourself. . , . Hide 
your eyes ... fly ... ! ' — and was gone. Like a 
deer he went. He waited neither for food nor pay- 
ment, but flung the great black bourka round his 
face — and ran. 

And to O'Malley, bereft of all power of movement 
as he watched in complete bewilderment, one thing 
seemed clear : the man went in this extraordinary 
fashion because he was afraid of something he had 
/(?//, not seen. For as he ran with wild and leaping 
strides, he did not run away from the figure. He 
took the direction straight towards the spot where 
the stranger still stood motionless as a tree. So close 
he passed him that he must almost have brushed his 
very shoulder. He did not see him. 

The last thing the Irishman noted was that in his 
violence the man had dropped the yellow bashlik 
from his head. O'Malley saw him stoop with a 
flying rush to pick it up. He seemed to catch it as 
it fell. 

And then the big figure moved. He came slowly 
forward from among the trees, his hands outstretched 
in greeting, on his great visage a shining smile of 
welcome that seemed to share the sunrise. In that 
moment for the Irishman all was forgotten as though 
unknown, unseen, save the feelings of extraordinary 
happiness that filled him to the brim. 



XXX 

'The poets are thus liberating gods. The ancient British bards 
had for the title of their order, "Those who are free throughout the 
world." They are free, and they make free. An imaginative book 
renders us much more service at first, by stimulating us through its 
tropes, than afterward, when we arrive at the precise sense of the 
author. I think nothing is of any value in books, excepting the 
transcendental and extraordinary. If a man is inflamed and carried 
away by his thought, to that degree that he forgets the authors and 
the public, and heeds only this one dream, which holds him like an 
insanity, let me read his paper, and you may have all the arguments 
and histories and criticism.' — Emerson. 

To criticize, deny, perhaps to sneer, is no very difficult 
or uncommon function of the mind, and the story as 
I first heard him tell it, lying there in the grass beyond 
the Serpentine that summer evening, roused in me, 
I must confess, all of these very ordinary faculties. 
Yet, as I listened to his voice that mingled with the 
rustle of the poplars overhead, and watched his eager 
face and gestures, it came to me dimly that a man's 
mistakes may be due to his attempting bigger things 
than his little critic ever dreamed perhaps. And 
gradually I shared the vision that this unrhyming 
poet by my side had somehow lived out in action. 

Inner experience for him was ever the reality — 
not the mere forms or deeds that clothe it in partial 
physical expression. 

There was no question, of course, that he had 
actually met this big, inarticulate Russian on the 

227 



228 THE CENTAUR 



XXX 



steamer ; that Stahl's part in the account was un- 
varnished ; that the boy had fallen on the deck from 
heart disease ; and that, after an interval, chance had 
brought O'Malley and the father together again in 
this valley of the Central Caucasus, All that was 
as literal as the superstitious terror of the Georgian 
peasant. Further, that the Russian possessed pre- 
cisely those qualities of powerful sympathy with the 
other's hidden longings which the subtle-minded Celt 
had been so quick to appropriate — this, too, was 
literal enough. Here, doubtless, was the springboard 
whence he leaped into the stream of this quasi- 
spiritual adventure with an eagerness of fine, whole- 
hearted belief which must make this dull world a 
very wonderful place indeed to those who know it ; 
for it is the visioned faculty of correlating the 
commonest event with the procession of august Powers 
that pass ever to and fro behind life's swaying curtain, 
and of divining in the most ordinary of yellow 
buttercups the golden fires of a dropped star. 

Again, for Terence O'Malley there seemed no 
definite line that marked off one state of consciousness 
from another, just as there seems no given instant 
when a man passes actually from sleep to waking, 
fi-om pleasure to pain, from joy to grief. There 
is, indeed, no fixed threshold between the states 
of normal and abnormal consciousness. In this 
stranger he imagined a sense of companionship that 
by some magic of alchemy transformed his deep lone- 
liness into joy, and satisfied his passionate yearnings 
by bringing their subjective fulfilment within range. 
To have found acceptance in his sight was thus a 
revolutionary fact in his existence. While a part of 
my mind may have labelled it all as creative imagina- 
tion, another part recognized it as plainly true — 



XXX THE CENTAUR 229 

because his being lived it out without the least 
denial. 

He, at any rate, was not inventing ; nor ever 
knew an instant's doubt. He simply told me what 
had happened. The discrepancies — the omissions 
in his written account especially — were simply due, 
I feel, to the fact that his skill in words was not 
equal to the depth and brilliance of the emotions 
that he experienced. But the fact remains : he did 
experience them. His fairy tale convinced. 

His faith had made him whole — one with the 
Earth. The sense of disunion between his outer and 
his inner self was gone. 

And now, as these two began their journey 
together into the wilder region of these stupendous 
mountains, O'Malley says he realized clearly that the 
change he had dreaded as an ' inner catastrophe ' 
simply would mean the complete and final transfer of 
his consciousness from the ' without ' to the ' within.' 
It would involve the loss only of what constituted 
him a person among the external activities of the 
world to-day. He would lose his life to find it. The 
deeper self thus quickened by the stranger must 
finally assert its authority over the rest. To join 
these Urwelt beings and share their eternal life of 
beauty close to the Earth herself, he must shift the 
centre. Only thus could he enter the state before 
the * Fall ' — that ancient Garden of the World-Soul, 
walled-in so close behind his daily life — and know 
deliverance from the discontent of modern conditions 
that so distressed him. 

To do this temporarily, perhaps, had long been 
possible to him — in dream, in reverie, in those 
imaginative trances when he almost seemed to leave 
his body altogether ; but to achieve it permanently 



230 THE CENTAUR xxx 

was something more than any such passing disable- 
ment of the normal self. It involved, he now saw 
clearly, that which he had already witnessed in the 
boy : the final release of his Double in so-called 
death. 

Thus, as they made their way northwards, nomin- 
ally towards the mighty Elbruz and the borders of 
Swanetia, the Irishman knew in his heart that they in 
reality came nearer to the Garden long desired, and 
to those lofty Gates of horn and ivory that hitherto 
he had never found — because he feared to let himself 
go. Often he had camped beneath the walls, had 
smelt the flowers, heard the songs, and even caught 
glimpses of the life that moved so gorgeously within. 
But the Gates themselves had never shone for him, even 
against the sky of dream, because his vision had been 
clouded by alarm. They swung, it had seemed to him 
before, in only one direction — for those who enter : 
he had always hesitated, lost his way, returned. . . . 
And many, like him, make the same mistake. Once 
in, there need be no return, for in reality the walls 
spread outwards and — enclose the entire world. 

Civilization and Humanity, the man of smaller 
vision had called out to him as passwords to safety. 
Simplicity and Love, he now discovered were the truer 
clues. His big friend in silence taught him. Now 
he knew. 

For in that little hamlet their meeting had taken 
place — in silence. No actual speech had passed. 
* You go — so .? * the Russian conveyed by a look and 
by a movement of his whole figure, indicating the 
direction ; and to the Irishman's assenting inclination 
of the head he made an answering gesture that merely 
signified compliance with a plan already known to 



XXX THE CENTAUR 231 

both, ' We go, together then.' And, there and 
then, they started, side by side. 

The suddenness of this concerted departure only 
seemed strange afterwards when O'Malley looked 
back upon it, for at the time it seemed as inevitable 
as being obliged to swim once the dive is taken. He 
stood upon a pinnacle whence lesser details were 
invisible ; he knew a kind of exaltation — of loftier 
vision. Small facts that ordinarily might fill the day 
with trouble sank below the horizon then. He did 
not even notice that they went without food, horse, 
or blankets. It was reckless, unrestrained, and utterly 
unhindered, this free setting-forth together. Thus 
might he have gone upon a journey with the wind, 
the sunshine, or the rain. Departure with a thought, 
a dream, a fancy could not have been less unhampered. 

The only detail of his outer world that lingered 
— and that, already sinking out of sight like a stone 
into deep water — was the image of the running peasant. 
For a moment he recalled the picture. He saw the 
man in the act of stooping after the fallen bashlik. 
He saw him seize it, lift it to his head again. But 
the picture was small — already very far away. Before 
the bashlik actually reached the head, the detail 
dipped into mist and vanished. . . 



XXXI 

It was spring — and the flutes of Pan played every- 
where. The radiance of the world's first morning 
shone undimmed. Life flowed and sang and danced, 
abundant and untamed. It bathed the mountains 
and that sky of stainless blue. It bathed him too. 
Dipped, washed, and shining in it, he walked the 
Earth as she lay radiant in her early youth. The 
crystal presence of her everlastmg Spring flew laugh- 
ing through a world of light and flowers — flowers 
rhat none could ever pluck to die, light that could 
never fade to darkness within walls and roofs. 

All day they wound easily, as though on winged 
feet, through the steep belt of box and beech woods, 
and in sparkling brilliant heat across open spaces 
where the azaleas shone ; a cooling wind, fresh as 
the dawn, seemed ever to urge them forwards. The 
country, for all its huge scale and wildness, was park- 
like ; the giant, bushy trees wore an air of being 
tended by the big winds that ran with rustling music 
among their waving foliage. Between the rhododen- 
drons were avenues of turf, broad-gladed pathways, 
yet older than the moon, from which a thousand 
gardeners of wind and dew had gone but a moment 
before to care for others further on. Over all 
brimmed up some primal, old-world beauty of a 
simple life — some immemorial soft glory of the dawn. 

232 



XXXI THE CENTAUR 233 

Closer and closer, deeper and deeper, ever swifter, 
ever more direct, O'Malley passed down towards the 
heart of his mother's being. Along the tenderest 
pathways of his inner being, so wee, so soft, so 
simple that for most men they lie ignored or over- 
grown, he slipped with joy a little nearer — one stage 
perhaps — towards Reality. 

Pan ' blew in power ' across these Caucasian heights 
and valleys. 

Sweet, sweet, sweet, O Pan ! 

Piercing sweet by the river ! 
Blinding sweet, O great god Pan ! 
The sun on the hill forgot to die, 
And the lilies revived, and the dragon-fly 

Came back to dream on the river. 

In front his big leader, no longer blundering 
clumsily as on that toy steamer with the awkward 
and lesser motion known to men, pressed forward 
with a kind of giant sure supremacy along paths he 
knew, or rather over a trackless, pathless world which 
the great planet had charted lovingly for his splendid 
feet. That wind, blowing from the depths of 
valleys left long since behind, accompanied them 
wisely. They heard, not the faint horns of Elfland 
faintly blowing, but the blasts of the Urwelt 
trumpets growing out of the still distance, nearer, 
ever nearer. For leagues below the beech woods 
poured over the enormous slopes in a sea of soft 
green foam, and through the meadow spaces they 
saw the sweet nakedness of running water, and 
listened to its song. At noon they rested in the 
greater heat, sleeping beneath the shadow of big 
rocks ; and sometimes travelled late into the night, 
when the stars guided them and they knew the 
pointing of the winds. The very moonlight then. 



234 THE CENTAUR xxxi 

that washed this lonely world with silver, sheeting the 
heights of snow beyond, was friendly, half divine . . . 
and it seemed to O'Malley that while they slept they 
were watched and cared for — as though Others who 
awaited had already come halfway out to meet them. 
And ever, more and more, the passion of his 
happiness increased ; he knew himself complete, 
fulfilled, made whole. It was as though his Self were 
passing outwards into hundreds of thousands, and 
becoming countless as the sand. He was everywhere ; 
in everything ; shining, singing, dancing. . . . With 
the ancient woods he breathed ; slipped with the 
streams down the still darkened valleys ; called from 
each towering summit to the Sun ; and flew with all 
the winds across the immense, untrodden slopes. 
About him lay this whole spread being of the flowered 
Caucasus, huge and quiet, drinking in the sunshine 
at its leisure. But it lay also within himself, for his 
expanding consciousness included and contained it. 
Through it — this early potent Mood of Nature — 
he passed towards the Soul of the Earth within, 
even as a child, caught by a mood of winning tender- 
ness in its mother, passes closer to the heart that 
gave it birth. Some central love enwrapped him. 
He knew the surrounding power of everlasting arms. 



XXXII 

' Inward, ay, deeper far than love or scorn. 

Deeper than bloom of virtue, stain of sin. 

Rend thou the veil and pass alone within. 
Stand naked there and know thyself forlorn. 

Nay ! in what world, then, spirit, wast thou born ? 

Or to what World-Soul art thou entered in ? 

Feel the Self fade, feel the great life begin. 
With Love re-rising in the cosmic morn. 

The Inward ardour yearns to the inmost goal ; 

The endless goal is one with the endless way ; 

From every gulf the tides of Being roll. 

From every zenith burns the indwelling day ; 
And life in Life has drowned thee and soul in Soul ; 
And these are God, and thou thyself art they.* 

F. W. H. Myers. From 'A Cosmic Outlook.' 

The account of what followed simply swept me into 
fairyland, yet a Fairyland that is true because it lives 
in every imaginative heart that does not dream itself 
shut off from the Universe in some wee compartment 
all alone. 

If O'Malley's written account, and especially his 
tumbled note-books, left me bewildered and confused, 
the fragments that he told me brought this sense of 
an immense, sweet picture that actually existed. I 
caught small scenes of it, set in some wild high light. 
Their very incoherence conveyed the gorgeous 
splendour of the whole better than any neat ordered 
sequence could possibly have done. 

Climax, in the story-book meaning, there was 
none. The thing flowed round and round for ever. 

235 



236 THE CENTAUR xxxii 

A sense of something eternal wrapped me as I listened ; 
for his imagination set the whole adventure out of time 
and space, and 1 caught myself dreaming too. ' A 
thousand years in His sight* — I understood the old 
words as refreshingly new — might be a day. Thus 
felt that monk, perhaps, for whose heart a hundred 
years had passed while he listened to the singing of a 
little bird. 

My practical questions — it was only at the 
beginning that I was dull enough to ask them — he 
did not satisfy, because he could not. There was 
never the least suggestion of the artist's mere 
invention. 

' You really felt the Earth about and in you,' I 
had asked, ' much as one feels the presence of a friend 
and living person ? ' 

' Drowned in her, yes, as in the thoughts and 
atmosphere of some one awfully loved.' His voice 
a little trembled as he said it. 

* So speech unnecessary .? ' 

' Impossible — fatal,' was the laconic, comprehensive 
reply, ' limiting : destructive even.' 

That, at least, I grasped : the pitifulness of words 
before that love by which self goes wholly lost in the 
being of another, adrift yet cared for, gathered 
all wonderfully in. 

* And your Russian friend — your leader?' I 
ventured, haltingly. 

His reply was curiously illuminating : — 

* Like some great guiding Thought within her 
mind — some flaming motif — interpreting her love and 
splendour — leading me straight.' 

* As you felt at Marseilles, a clue — a vital clue } ' 
For I remembered the singular phrase he had used in 
the note-book. 



xxxn THE CENTAUR 237 

* Not a bad word,' he laughed ; ' certainly, as far 
as it goes, not a wrong one. For he — /'/ — was at 
the same time within myself. We merged, as our 
life grew and spread. We swept things along with 
us from the banks. We were in flood together,' he 
cried. ' We drew the landscape with us ! ' 

The last words baffled me ; I found no immediate 
response. He pushed away the plates on the table 
before us, where we had been lunching in the back 
room of a dingy Soho restaurant. We now had the 
place to ourselves. He drew his chair a little nearer. 

' Don't ye see — our journey also was within^ he 
added abruptly. 

The pale London sunlight came through the 
window across chimneys, dreary roofs, courtyards. 
Yet where it touched his face it seemed at once to 
shine. His voice was warm and eager. I caught 
from him, as it were, both heat and light. 

* You moved actually, though, over country — ? ' 

' While at the same time we moved within, ad- 
vanced, sank deeper,' he returned ; * call it what you 
will. Our condition moved. There was this cor- 
respondence between the two. Over her face we 
walked, yet into her as well. We " travelled " with 
One greater than ourselves, both caught and merged 
in her, in utter sympathy with one another as with 
herself . . .' 

This stopped me dead. I could not pretend more 
than a vague sympathetic understanding with such 
descriptions of a mystical experience. Nor, it was 
clear, did he expect it of me. Even his own heart 
was troubled, and he knew he spoke of things that 
only few may deal with sanely, still fewer hear with 
patience. 

But, oh, that little room in Greek Street smelt of 



238 THE CENTAUR xxxn 

forests, dew, and dawn as he told it, — that dear way- 
ward Child of Earth ! For ' his voice fell, like music 
that makes giddy the dim brain, faint with intoxica- 
tion of keen joy.' I watched those delicate hands 
he spread about him through the air ; the tender, 
sensitive lips, the light blue eyes that glowed. I 
noted the real strength in the face, — a sort of nobility 
it was — his shabby suit of grey, his tie never caught 
properly in the collar, the frayed cuffs, and the 
enormous boots he wore even in London — ' policeman 
boots ' as we used to call them with a laugh. 

So vivid was the picture that he painted ! Almost, 
it seemed, I knew myself the pulse of that eternal 
Spring beneath our feet, beating in vain against the 
suffocating weight of London's bricks and pavements 
laid by civilization — the Earth's delight striving 
to push outwards into visible form as flowers. She 
flashed some scrap of meaning thus into me, though 
blunted on the way, I fear, and crudely paraphrased. 

Yes, as he talked across the airless gloom of that 
little back room, in some small way I caught the 
splendour of his vision. Behind the words, I caught 
it here and there. My own wee world extended. 
My being stretched to understand him and to net in 
fugitive fragments the scenes of wonder that he knew 
complete. 

Perhaps his larger consciousness fringed my own 
to ' bruise ' it, as he claimed the Earth had done to 
him, so that I glimpsed in tinier measure an experience 
that in himself blazed whole and thundering. It 
was, I must admit, exalting and invigorating, if a 
little breathless ; and the return to streets and 
omnibuses painful — a descent to ugliness and dis- 
appointment. For things I can hardly understand 
now, even in my own descriptions of them, seemed 



I 



XXXII THE CENTAUR 239 

at the time quite clear — or clear-ish at any rate. 
Whereas normally I could never have compassed 
them at all. 

It taught me : that, at least, I know^. In some 
spiritual way I quickened to the view that all great 
teaching really comes in some such curious fashion — 
via a temporary stretching or extension of the * heart ' 
to receive it. The little normal self is pushed aside 
to make room, even to the point of loss, in order to 
contain it. Later, the consciousness contracts again. 
But it has expanded — and there has been growth. 
Was this, I wondered, perhaps what mystics speak of 
when they say the personal life must slip aside, be 
trampled on, submerged, before there can be room 
for the divine Presences ....'' 

At any rate, as he talked there over coifee that 
grew cold and cigarette smoke that made the air yet 
thicker than it naturally was, his words conveyed with 
almost grandeur of conviction this reality of a pro- 
found inner experience. I shared in some faint way 
its truth and beauty, so that when I saw it in his 
written form I marvelled to find the thing so thin and 
cold and dwindled. The key his personal presence 
supplied, of guidance and interpretation, of course 
was gone. 



XXXIII 

' Why, what is this patient entrance into Nature's deep resources 
But the child's most gradual learning to walk upright without bane ? 
When we drive out, from the cloud of steam, majestical white horses, 
Are we greater than the first men who led black ones by the mane ? ' 

E. B. Browning. 

The * Russian ' led. 

O'Malley styled him thus to the end for want of 
a larger word, perhaps — a word to phrase the inner 
and the outer. Although the mountains were devoid 
of trails, he seemed always certain of his way. An 
absolute sense of orientation possessed him ; or, 
rather, the whole earth became a single pathway. Her 
being, in and about their hearts, concealed no secrets ; 
he knew the fresh, cool water-springs as surely as the 
corners where the wild honey gathered. It seemed 
natural that the bees should leave them unmolested, 
giving them freely of their store, as that the savage 
dogs in the aouls, or villages, they passed so rarely 
now, should refrain from attack. Even the peasants 
shared with them some common, splendid life. 
Occasionally they passed an Ossetine on horseback, a 
rifle swung across his saddle, a covering bourka 
draping his shoulders and the animal's haunches in a 
single form that seemed a very outgrowth of the 
mountains. But not even a greeting was exchanged. 
They passed in silence ; often very close, as though 
they did not see these two on foot. And once or 

240 



xxxiii THE CENTAUR 241 

twice the horses reared and whinnied, while their 
riders made the signs of their religion. . . . Sentries 
they seemed. But for the password known to both 
they would have stopped the travellers. In these 
forsaken fastnesses mere unprotected wandering 
means death. Yet to the happy Irishman there 
never came a thought of danger or alarm. All was 
a portion of himself, and no man can be afraid of his 
own hands or feet. Their convoy was immense, 
invisible, a guaranteed security of the vast Earth 
herself. No little personal injury could pass so huge 
defence. Others, armed with a lesser security of 
knives and guns and guides, would assuredly have 
been turned back, or had they shown resistance, 
would never have been heard to tell the tale. Dr. 
Stahl and the fur-merchant, for instance 

But such bothering little thoughts with their hard 
edges no longer touched reality ; they spun away and 
found no lodgment ; they were — untrue ; false 
items of some lesser world unrealized. 

For, in proportion as he fixed his thoughts success- 
fully on outward and physical things, the world 
wherein he now walked grew dim : he missed the 
path, stumbled, saw trees and flowers indistinctly, 
failed to hear properly the call of birds and wind, 
to feel the touch of sun ; and, most unwelcome of 
all, — was aware that his leader left him, dwindling 
in size, dropping away somehow among shadows far 
behind or far ahead. 

The inversion was strangely complete : what men 
called solid, real, and permanent he now knew as the 
veriest shadows of existence, fleeting, unsatisfactory, 
false. / 

Their dreary make-believe had all his life oppressed 
him. He now knew why. Men, driving their 

R 



242 THE CENTAUR xxxiii 

forces outwards for external possessions had lost the 
way so utterly. It truly was amazing. He no 
longer quite understood how such feverish strife was 
possible to intelligent beings : the fur-merchant, the 
tourists, his London friends, the great majority of 
men and women he had known, pain in their hearts 
and weariness in their eyes, the sad strained faces, 
the furious rush to catch a little pleasure they deemed 
joy. It seemed like some wild senseless game that 
madness plays. He found it difficult to endow 
them, one and all, with any sense of life. He saw 
them groping in thick darkness, snatching with hands 
of shadow at things of even thinner shadow, all 
moving in a wild and frantic circle of artificial 
desires, while just beyond, absurdly close to many, 
blazed this great living sunshine of Reality and 
Peace and Beauty. If only they would turn — and 
look within — ! 

In fleeting moments these sordid glimpses of that 
dark and shadow- world still afilicted his outer sight 
— the nightmare he had left behind. It played like 
some gloomy memory through a corner of conscious- 
ness not yet wholly disentangled from it. Already 
he burned to share his story with the world. . . ! 
A few he saw who here and there half turned, touched 
by a flashing ray — then rushed away into the old 
blackness as though frightened, not daring to escape. 
False images thrown outward by the intellect pre- 
vented. Stahl he saw . . . groping ; a soft light of 
yearning in his eyes ... a hand outstretched to 
push the shadows from him, yet ever gathering them 
instead. . . . Men he saw by the million, youth still in 
their hearts, yet slaving in darkened trap-like cages 
not merely to earn a competency but to pile more gold 
for things not really wanted ; faces of greed round 



xxxiii THE CENTAUR 243 

gambling-tables ; the pandemonium of Exchanges ; 
even fair women, playing Bridge through all a 
summer afternoon — the strife and lust and passion 
for possessions degrading every heart, choking the 
channels of simplicity. . . . Over the cities of the 
world he heard the demon Civilization sing its song 
of terror and desolation. Its music of destruction 
shook the nations. He saw the millions dance. 
And mid the bewildering ugly thunder of that sound 
few could catch the small sweet voice played by the 
Earth upon the little Pipes of Pan . . . the fluting 
call of Nature to the Simple Life — which is the Inner. 
For now, as he moved closer to the Earth, deeper 
ever deeper into the enfolding moods of her vast 
collective consciousness, he drew nearer to the Reality 
that satisfies. He approached that centre where 
outward activity is less, yet energy and vitality far 
greater — because it is at rest. Here he met things 
halfway, as it were, en route for the outer physical 
world where they would appear later as ' events,' but 
not yet emerged, still alive and breaking with their 
undischarged and natural potencies. Modern life, he 
discerned, dealt only with these forces when they had 
emerged, masquerading at the outer rim of life as 
complete embodiments, whereas actually they are but 
partial and symbolical expressions of their eternal 
prototypes behind. And men to-day were busy at 
this periphery only, touch with the centre lost, madly 
consumed with the unimportant details that concealed 
the inner glory. It was the spirit of the age to mis- 
take the outer shell for the inner reality. He at last 
understood the reason of his starved loneliness amid 
the stupid uproar of latter-day life, why he distrusted 
* Civilization,' and stood apart. His yearnings were 
explained. His heart dwelt ever in the Golden Age 



244 THE CENTAUR xxxiii 

of the Earth's first youth, and at last — he was coming 
home. 

Like mud settling in dirty water, the casual 
realities of that outer life all sank away. He grew 
clear within, one with the primitive splendour, 
beauty, grace of a fresh world. Over his inner self, 
flooding slowly the passages and cellars, those 
subterranean ways that honeycomb the dim-lit 
foundations of personality, this tide of power rose. 
Filling chamber after chamber, melting down walls and 
ceiling, eating away divisions softly and irresistibly, 
it climbed in silence, merging all moods and disunion 
of his separate Selves into the single thing that made 
him comprehensible to himself and able to know the 
Earth as Mother. He saw himself whole ; he knew 
himself divine. A strange tumult as of some 
ecstasy of old remembrance invaded him. He 
dropped back into a more spacious scale of time, 
long long ago when a month might be a moment, 
or a thousand years pass round him as a single 
day. . . . 

The qualities of all the Earth lay too, so easily 
contained, within himself. He understood that old 
legend by which man the microcosm represents and 
sums up Earth, the macrocosm in himself, so that 
Nature becomes the symbol and interpreter of his 
inner being. The strength and dignity of the trees 
he drew into himself; the power of the wind was 
his ; with his unwearied feet ran all the sweet and 
facile swiftness of the rivulets, and in his thoughts 
the graciousness of flowers, the wavy softness of 
the grass, the peace of open spaces and the calm 
of that vast sky. The murmur of the Urwelt was 
in his blood, and in his heart the exaltation of her 
golden Mood of Spring. 



XXXIII THE CENTAUR 245 

How, then, could speech be possible, since both 
shared this common life ? The communion with his 
friend and leader was too profound and perfect for 
any stammering utterance in the broken, partial 
symbols known as language. This was done for 
them : the singing of the birds, the wind-voices, the 
rippling of water, the very humming of the myriad 
insects even, and rustling of the grass and leaves, 
shaped all they felt in some articulate expression that 
was right, complete, and adequate. The passion of 
the larks set all the sky to music, and songs far 
sweeter than the nightingales' made every dusk 
divine. 

He understood now that laborious utterance of 
his friend upon the steamer, and why his difficulty 
with words was more than he could overcome. 

Like a current in the sea he still preserved 
identity, yet knew the freedom of a boundless being. 
And meanwhile the tide was ever rising. With 
this singular companion he neared that inner realiza- 
tion which should reveal them as they were — 
Thoughts in the Earth's old Consciousness too 
primitive, too far away, too vital and terrific to be 
confined in any outward physical expression of the 
' civilized ' world to-day. . . . The earth shone, 
glittered, sang, holding them close to the rhythm of 
her gigantic heart. Her glory was their own. In 
the blazing summer of the inner life they floated, 
happy, caught away, at peace . . . emanations of her 
living Self. 

The valleys far below were filled with mist, 
cutting them off literally from the world of men, 
but the beauty of the upper mountains grew more 
and more bewilderingly enticing. The scale was so 



246 THE CENTAUR xxxiii 

immense, while the brilhant clearness of the air 
brought distance close before the eyes, altered 
perspective, and robbed ' remote ' and ' near ' of any 
definite meaning. Space fled away. It shifted here 
and there at pleasure, according as they felt. It was 
within them, not without. They passed, dispersed 
and swift about the entire landscape, a very part of 
it, diff\ised in terms of light and air and colour, 
scattered in radiance, distributed through flowers, 
spread through the sky and grass and forests. Space 
is a form of thought. But they no longer 
* thought ' : they felt . . . . O, that prodigious, 
clean, and simple Feeling of the Earth ! Love that 
redeems and satisfies ! Power that fills and blesses ! 
Electric strength that kills the germ of separateness, 
making whole ! The medicine of the world ! 

For days and nights it was thus — or was it years 
and minutes } — while they skirted the slopes and 
towers of the huge Dykh-Taou, and Elbrous, 
supreme and lonely in the heavens, beckoned 
solemnly. The snowy Kochtan-Taou rolled past, 
yet through^ them ; Kasbek superbly thundered ; 
hosts of lesser summits sang in the dawn and 
whispered to the stars. And longing sank away — 
impossible. 

' My boy, my boy, could you only have been 
with me . . . ! ' broke his voice across the splendid 
dream, bringing me back to the choking, dingy room 
I had forgotten. It was like a cry — a cry of 
passionate yearning. 

' I'm with you now,' I murmured, some similar 
rising joy half breaking in my breast. ' That's 
something ' 

He sighed in answer. * Something, perhaps. 
But I have got it always ; it's all still part of me. 



xxxni THE CENTAUR 247 

Oh, oh ! that I could give it to the world and lift 
the ache of all humanity ... ! ' His voice 
trembled. I saw the moisture of immense com- 
passion in his eyes. I felt myself swim out into 
universal being. 

'Perhaps,' I stammered half beneath my breath, 
• perhaps some day you may . . . ! ' 

He shook his head. His face turned very sad. 

' How should they listen, much less under- 
stand ? Their energies drive outwards, and separa- 
tion is their God. There is no '* money in it " ! . . . 



XXXIV 

' Oh ! whose heart is not stirred with tumultuous joy when the 
intimate Life of Nature enters into his soul with all its plenitude, . . . 
when that mighty sentiment for which language has no other name 
than Love is diffused in him, like some powerful all-dissolving vapour ; 
when he, shivering with sweet terror, sinks into the dusky, enticing 
bosom of Nature ; when the meagre personality loses itself in the over- 
powering waves of passion, and nothing remains but the focal point 
of the incommensurable generative Force, an engulphing vortex in 
the ocean ?* — Novalis, Disciples at Sals. Translated by U. C. B. 

Early in the afternoon they left the bigger trees 
behind, and passed into that more open country 
where the shoulders of the mountains were strewn 
with rhododendrons. These formed no continuous 
forest, but stood about in groups some twenty-five 
feet high, their rounded masses lighted on the surface 
with fires of mauve and pink and purple. When the 
wind stirred them, and the rattling of their stiff leaves 
was heard, it seemed as if the skin of the mountains 
trembled to shake out coloured flames. The air 
turned radiant through a mist of running tints. 

Still climbing, they passed along broad glades of 
turfy grass between the groups. More rapidly now, 
O'Malley says, went forward that inner change of 
being which accompanied the progress of their outer 
selves. So intimate henceforth was this subtle corre- 
spondence that the very landscape took the semblance 
of their feelings. They moved as * emanations ' of 

248 



xxxiv THE CENTAUR 249 

the landscape. Each melted in the other, dividing 
lines all vanished. 

Their union with the Earth approached this 
strange and sweet fulfilment. 

And so it was that, though at this height the 
vestiges of bird and animal life were wholly gone, 
there grew more and more strongly the sense that, in 
their further depths and shadows, these ancient bushes 
screened Activities even more ancient than themselves. 
Life, only concealed because they had not reached its 
plane of being, pulsed everywhere about their pathway, 
immense in power, moving swiftly, very grand and 
very simple, and sometimes surging close, seeking to 
draw them in. More than once, as they moved 
through glade and clearing, the Irishman knew thrills 
of an intoxicating happiness, as this abundant, driving 
life brushed past him. It came so close, it glided 
before his eyes, yet still was viewless. It strode behind 
him and before, peered down through space upon him, 
lapped him about with the stir of mighty currents. 
The deep suction of its invitation caught his soul, 
urging the change within himself more quickly for- 
ward. Huge and delightful, he describes it, awful, 
yet bringing no alarm. 

He was always on the point of seeing. Surely the 
next turning would reveal ; beyond the next dense, 
tangled group would come — disclosure ; behind that 
clustered mass of purple blossoms, shaking there 
mysteriously in the wind, some half-veiled countenance 
of splendour watched and welcomed ! Before his 
face passed swift, deific figures, tall, erect, compelling, 
charged with this ancient, golden life that could 
never wholly pass away. And only just beyond the 
fringe of vision. Vision already strained upon the 
edge. His consciousness stretched more and more 



250 THE CENTAUR xxxiv 

to reach them, while They came crowding near to let 
him know inclusion. 

These projections of the Earth's old consciousness 
moved thick and soft about them, eternal in their 
giant beauty. Soon he would know, perhaps, the 
very forms in which she had projected them — dear 
portions of her streaming life the earliest races half 
divined and worshipped, and never quite withdrawn. 
Worship could still entice them out. A single wor- 
shipper sufficed. For worship meant retreat into the 
heart where still they dwelt. And he had loved and 
worshipped all his life. 

And always with him, now at his side or now a 
little in advance, his leader moved in power, with 
vigorous, springing gestures like to dancing, singing 
that old tuneless song of the wind, happier even 
than himself. 

The splendour of the Urwelt closed about them. 
They drew nearer to the Gates of that old Garden, 
the first Time ever knew, whose frontiers were not 
less than the horizons of the entire world. For this 
lost Eden of a Golden Age when ' first God dawned on 
chaos ' still shone within the soul as in those days of 
innocence before the ' Fall,' when men first separated 
themselves from their great Mother. 

A little before sunset they halted. A hundred yards 
above the rhododendron forest, in a clear wide space 
of turf that ran for leagues among grey boulders to the 
lips of the eternal snow-fields, they waited. Through 
a gap of sky, with others but slightly lower than him- 
self, the pyramid of Kasbek, grim and towering, stared 
down upon them, dreadfully close though really miles 
away. At their feet yawned the profound valley they 
had climbed. Halfway into it, unable to reach the 



XXXIV THE CENTAUR 251 

depths, the sun's last rays dropped shafts like rivers 
slanting. Already in soft troops the shadows crept 
downwards from the eastern-facing summits over- 
head. 

Out of these very shadows Night drew swiftly 
down about the world, building with her masses of 
silvery architecture a barrier that rose to heaven. 
These two lay down beside it. Beyond it spread 
that shining Garden . . . only the shadow-barrier 
between. 

With the rising of the moon this barrier softened 
marvellously, letting the starbeams in. It trembled 
like a line of wavering music in the wind of night. It 
settled downwards, shaking a little, towards the ground, 
while just above them came a curving inwards like a 
bay of darkness, with overhead two stately towers, 
their outline fringed with stars. 

' The Gateway . . . 1 ' whispered something through 
the mountains. 

It may have been the leader's voice ; it may have 
been the Irishman's own leaping thought ; it may 
have been merely a murmur from the rhododendron 
leaves below. It came sifting gently through the 
shadows, O'Malley knew. He followed his leader 
higher. Just beneath this semblance of an old-world 
portal which Time could neither fashion nor destroy, 
they lay upon the earth — and waited. Beside them 
shone the world, dressed by the moon in silver. 
The wind stood still to watch. The peak of Kasbek 
from his cloudy distance listened too. 

For, floating upwards across the spaces came a 
sound of simple, old-time piping — the fluting music 
of a little reed. It drew near, stopped for a moment 
as though the player watched them ; then, with a 
plunging swift:ness, passed oflF through starry distance 



252 THE CENTAUR xxxiv 

up among the darker mountains. The lost, forsaken 
Asian valley covered them. Nowhere were they 
extraneous to it. They slept. And while they slept, 
they moved across the frontiers of fulfilment. 

The moon-blanched Gate of horn and ivory swung 
open. The consciousness of the Earth possessed 
them. They passed within. 



XXXV 



' For of old the Sun, our sire, 

Came wooing the mother of men, 

Earth, that was virginal then. 
Vestal fire to his fire. 
Silent her bosom and coy. 

But the strong god sued and press'd ; 
And born of their starry nuptial joy 

Are all that drink of her breast. 

• And the triumph of him that begot. 

And the travail of her that bore, 

Behold they are evermore 
As warp and weft in our lot. 
We are children of splendour and flame. 

Of shuddering, also, and tears. 
Magnificent out of the dust we came. 

And abject from the spheres. 

' O bright irresistible lord ! 

We are fruit of Earth's womb, each one. 
And fruit of thy loins, O Sun, 
Whence first was the seed outpour'd. 
To thee as our Father we bow, 

Forbidden thy Father to see. 
Who is older and greater than thou, as thou 
Art greater and older than we.* 

William Watson, 'Ode in May.' 

Very slowly the dawn came. The sky blushed rose, 
trembled, flamed. A breath of wind stirred the 
vapours that far below sheeted the surface of the 
Black Sea, But it was still in that gentle twilight 
before the actual colour comes that O'Malley found 
he was lying with his eyes wide open, watching the 

253 



2 54 THE CENTAUR xxxv 

rhododendrons. He may have slept meanwhile, 
though ' sleep,' he says, involving loss of conscious- 
ness, seemed no right description. A sense of interval 
there was at any rate, a ' transition-blank,' — whatever 
that may mean — he phrased it in the writing. 

And, watching the rhododendron forest a hundred 
yards below, he saw it move. Through the dim 
light this movement passed and ran, here, there, and 
everywhere. A curious soft sound accompanied it 
that made him remember the Bible phrase of wind 
' going in the tops of the mulberry trees.' Hushed, 
swift, elusive murmur, it passed about him through the 
dusk. He caught it next behind him and, turning, 
noticed groups upon the slopes, — groups that he had 
not seen the night before. These groups seemed also 
now to move ; the isolated scattered clusters came 
together, merged, ran to the parent forest below, or 
melted just beyond the line of vision above. 

The wind sprang up and rattled all the million 
leaves. That rattling filled the air, and with it came 
another, deeper sound like to a sound of tramping 
that seemed to shake the earth. Confusion caught 
him then completely, for it was as if the mountain- 
side awoke, rose up, and shook itself into a wild 
and multitudinous wave of life. 

At first he thought the wind had somehow torn 
the rhododendrons loose from their roots and was 
strewing them with that tramping sound about the 
slopes. But the groups passed too swiftly over the 
turf for that, swept completely from their fastenings, 
while the tramping grew to a roaring as of cries and 
voices. That roaring had the quality of the voice 
that reached him weeks ago across the iEgean Sea. 
A strange, keen odour, too, that was not wholly 
unfamiliar, moved upon the wind. 



XXXV THE CENTAUR 255 

And then he knew that what he had been watch- 
ing all along were not rhododendrons at all, but living, 
splendid creatures. A host of others, moreover, 
large ones and small together, stood shadowy in the 
background, stamping their feet upon the turf, manes 
tossing in the early wind, in their entire mass awful as 
in their individual outline somehow noble. 

The light spread upwards from the east. With a 
fire of terrible joy and wonder in his heart, O'Malley 
held his breath and stared. The lustre of their 
glorious bodies, golden bronze in the sunlight, dazed 
the sight. He saw the splendour of ten hundred 
velvet flanks in movement, with here and there the 
uprising whiteness of a female outline that flashed 
and broke above the general mass like foam upon a 
great wave's crest — figures of incomparable grace 
and power ; the sovereign, upright carriage ; the 
rippling muscles upon massive limbs, and shoulders 
that held defiant strength and softness in exquisite 
combination. And then he heard huge murmurs of 
their voices that filled the dawn, aged by lost thousand 
years, and sonorous as the booming of the sea. A 
cry that was like singing escaped him. He saw 
them rise and sweep away. There was a rush of 
magnificence. They cantered — wonderfully. They 
were gone. 

The roar of their curious commotion travelled 
over the mountains, dying into distance very swiftly. 
The rhododendron forest that had concealed their 
approach resumed its normal aspect, but burning now 
with colours innumerable as the sunrise caught its 
thousand blossoms. And O'Malley understood that 
during ' sleep ' he had passed with his companion 
through the gates of ivory and horn, and stood now 
within the first Garden of the early world. All 



256 THE CENTAUR xxxv 

frontiers crossed, all barriers behind, he stood within 
the paradise of his heart's desire. The Conscious- 
ness of the Earth included him. These were early 
forms of life she had projected — some of the living 
prototypes of legend, myth, and fable — embodiments 
of her first manifestations of consciousness, and eternal, 
accessible to every heart that holds a true and passion- 
ate worship. All his life this love of Nature, which 
was worship, had been his. It now fulfilled itself. 
Merged by love into the consciousness of the Being 
loved, he felt her thoughts, her powers, and mani- 
festations of life as his own. 

In a flash, of course, this all passed clearly before 
him ; but there was no time to dwell upon it. For 
the activity of his companion had likewise become 
suddenly tremendous. He had risen into complete 
revelation at last. His own had called him. He 
was off to join his kind. 

The transformation came upon both of them, it 
seems, at once, but in that moment of bewilderment, 
the Irishman only realized it first in his leader. 

For on the edge of the advancing sunlight first 
this Cosmic Being crouched, then rose with alert and 
springing movement, leaping to his feet in a single 
bound that propelled him with a stride of more than 
a man's two limbs. His great sides quivered as he 
shook himself. A roar, similar to that sound the 
distance already swallowed, rolled forth into the air. 
With head thrown back, chest forward, too, for all 
the backward slant of the mighty shoulders, he stood 
there, grandly outlined, pushing the wind before him. 
The great brown eyes shone with the joy of freedom 
and escape — a superb and regal transformation. 

Urged by the audacity of his strange excitement, 
the Irishman obeyed an impulse that came he knew 



XXXV THE CENTAUR 257 

not whence. The single word sprang to his lips 
before he could guess its meaning, much less hold it 
back. 

'Lapithae . . .!' he cried aloud ;* Lapithas . . . !' 
The stalwart figure turned with an awful spring 
as though it would trample him to the ground. A 
moment the brown eyes flamed with a light of 
battle. Then, with another roar, and a gesture that 
was somehow both huge and simple, he seemed to 
rise and paw the air. The next second this figure of 
the Urwelt^ come once more into its own, bent down 
and forward, leaped wonderfully — then, cantering, 
raced away across the slopes to join his kind. He 
went like a shape of wind and cloud. The heritage 
of racial memory was his, and certain words remained 
still vividly evocative. That old battle with the 
Lapithas was but one item of the scenes of ancient 
splendour lying pigeon-holed in his mighty Mother's 
consciousness. The instant he had called, the Irish- 
man himself lay caught in lost memory's tumultuous 
whirl. The lonely world about him seemed of a 
sudden magnificently peopled — sky, woods, and 
torrents. 

He watched a moment the fierce rapidity with 
which he sped towards the mountains, the sound of 
his feet already merged in that other, vaster tramp- 
ing, and then he turned — to watch himself. For a 
similar transformation was going forward in himself, 
and with the happiness of wild amazement he saw it. 
Already, indeed, it was accomplished. All white and 
shining lay the sunlight over his own extended form. 
Power was in his limbs ; he rose above the ground 
in some new way ; the usual little stream of breath 
became a river of rushing air he drew into stronger, 
more capacious lungs ; likewise his bust grew 



258 THE CENTAUR xxxv 

strangely deepened, pushed the wind before it ; and 
the sunshine glowed on shaggy flanks agleam with 
dew that powerfully drove the ground behind him 
while he ran. 

He ran, yet only partly as a man runs ; he found 
himself shot forwards through the air, upright, yet 
at the same time upon all fours. Brandishing his 
arms he flew with a free, unfettered motion, travers- 
ing the surface of the mother's mind and body. Free 
of the entire Earth he was. 

And as he raced to join the others, there passed 
again across his memory faintly — it was like the little 
memory of some physical pain almost — the picture 
of the boy who swam so strangely in the sea, the 
picture of the parent's curious emanations on the 
deck, and, lastly, of those flying shapes of cloud and 
wind his inner vision brought so often speeding over 
long, bare hills. This was the final fragment of the 
outer world that reached him. . . . 

He tore along the mountains in the dawn, the 
awful speed at last explained. His going made a 
sound upon the wind, and like the wind he raced. 
Far beyond him in the distance, he saw the shadow 
of that disappearing host spreading upon the valleys 
like a mist. Faintly still he caught their sound of 
roaring ; but it was his own feet now that made that 
trampling as of hoofs upon the turf. The landscape 
moved and opened, gathering him in. . . . 

And, hardly had he gone, when there stole upon 
the place where he had stood, a sweet and simple 
sound of music — the little piping of a reed. It 
dropped down through the air, perhaps, or came 
from the forest edge, or possibly the sunrise brought 
it — this ancient little sound of fluting on those Pipes 
men call the Pipes of Pan. . . . 



XXXVI 

' Here we but peak and dwindle : 

The clank of chain and crane, 
The whir of crank and spindle 

Bewilder heart and brain ; 
The ends of our endeavour 

Are wealth and fame, 
Yet in the still Forever 

We're one and all the same ; 

* Yet beautiful and spacious 

The wise, old world appears. 
Yet frank and fair and gracious 

Outlaugh the jocund years. 
Our arguments disputing, 

The universal Pan 
Still wanders fluting — fluting — 

Fluting to maid and man. 
Our weary well-a-waying 

His music cannot still : 
Come ! let us go a-maying. 

And pipe with him our fill.' 

W. E. Henley. 

In a detailed description, radiant with a wild loveli- 
ness of some forgotten beauty, and of necessity often 
incoherent, the Irishman conveyed to me, sitting in 
that dreary Soho restaurant, the passion of his vision. 
With an astonishing vitality and a wealth of deep 
conviction it all poured from his lips. There was 
no halting and no hesitation. Like a man in trance 
he talked, and like a man in trance he lived it over 
again while imparting it to me. None came to 

259 



26o THE CENTAUR xxxvi 

disturb us in our dingy corner. Indeed there is no 
quieter place in all London town than the back room 
of these eating-houses of the French Quarter between 
the hours of lunch and dinner. The waiters vanish, 
the ' patron ' disappears ; no customers come in. 
But I know surely that its burning splendour came 
not from the actual words he used, but was due to 
definite complete transference of the vision itself into 
my own heart. I caught the fire from his very 
thought. His heat inflamed my mind. Words, 
both in the uttered and the written version, dimmed 
it all distressingly. 

And the completeness of the transference is 
proved for me by the fact that I never once had 
need to ask a question. I saw and understood it all 
as he did. And hours must have passed during the 
strange recital, for towards the close people came in 
and took the vacant tables, the lights were up, and 
grimy waiters clattered noisily about with plates and 
knives and forks, thrusting an inky carte du jour 
beneath our very faces. 

Yet how to set it down I swear I know not. Nor 
he, indeed. The note-books that I found in that old 
sack of Willesden canvas were a disgrace to any man 
who bid for sanity, — a disgrace to paper and pencil 
too ! 

All memory of his former life, it seems, at first, 
had fallen utterly away ; nothing survived to remind 
him of it ; and thus he lost all standard of com- 
parison. The state he moved in was too complete 
to admit of standards or of critical judgment. For 
these confine, imprison, and belittle, whereas he was 
free. His escape was unconditioned. From the 
thirty years of his previous living, no single fragment 
broke through. The absorption was absolute. 




XXXVI THE CENTAUR 261 

I' 

' I really do believe and know myself,' he said to 

me across that spotted table-cloth, ' that for the time 

I was merged into the being of another, a being 

immensely greater than myself. Perhaps old Stahl 

was right, perhaps old crazy Fechner ; and it actually 

was the consciousness of the Earth, I can only tell 

you that the whole experience left no room in me for 

other memories ; all I had previously known was 

gone, wiped clean away. Yet much of what came in 

its place is beyond me to describe ; and for a curious 

reason. It's not the size or splendour that prevent 

the telling, but rather the sublime simplicity of it all. 

I know no language to-day simple enough to utter 

it. Far behind words it lies, as difficult of full 

recovery as the dreams of deep sleep, as the ecstasy 

of the religious, elusive as the mystery of Kubla 

Khan or the Patmos visions of St. John. Full 

recapture, I am convinced, is not possible at all in 

words. 

' And at the time it did not seem like vision ; it 

was so natural ; unstudied, unprepared, and ever 

there ; spontaneous too and artless as a drop of 

water or a baby's toy. The natural is ever the 

unchanging. My God ! I tell you, man, it was 

^ divine ! ' 
He made about him a vehement sweeping gesture 
with his arm which emphasized more poignantly than 
speech the contrast he felt here where we sat — tight, 
confining walls, small stifling windows, chairs to rest 
the body, smothering roof and curtains, doors of 
narrow entrance and exit, floors to lift above the 
sweet surface of the soil, — all of them artificial 
barriers to shut out light and separate away from the 
Earth. * See what we've come to ! ' it said plainly. 
And it included even his clothes and boots and collar. 



262 THE CENTAUR xxxvi 

the ridiculous hat upon the peg, the unsightly ' brolly ' 
in the dingy corner. Had there been room in me 
for laughter, I could well have laughed aloud. 

For as he raced across that stretch of splendid 
mountainous Earth, watching the sunrise kiss the 
valleys and the woods, shaking the dew from his feet 
and swallowing the very wind for breath, he realized 
that other forms of life similar to his own were 
everywhere about him — also moving. 

' They were a part of the Earth even as I was. 
Here she was crammed to the brim with them — 
projections of her actual self and being, crowded with 
this incomparable ancient beauty that was strong as 
her hills, swift as her running streams, radiant as her 
wild flowers. Whether to call them forms or 
thoughts or feelings, or Powers perhaps, I swear, old 
man, 1 know not. Her Consciousness through which 
I sped, drowned, lost, and happy, wrapped us all in 
together as a mood contains its own thoughts and 
feelings. For she was a Being — of sorts. And I 
was in her mind, mood, consciousness, call it what 
you best can. These other thoughts and presences I 
felt were the raw material of forms, perhaps — Forces 
that when they reach the minds of men must clothe 
themselves in form in order to be known, whether 
they be Dreams, or Gods, or any other kind of 
inspiration. Closer than that I cannot get ... I 
knew myself within her being like a child, and 1 felt 
the deep, eternal pull — to simple things.' 

And thus the beauty of the early world com- 
panioned him, and all the forgotten gods moved 
forward into life. They hovered everywhere, 
immense and stately. The rocks and trees and 



I 



I 



XXXVI THE CENTAUR 263 

peaks that half concealed them, betrayed at the same 
time great hints of their mighty gestures. Near him, 
they were ; he moved towards their region. If 
definite sight refused to focus on them the fault 
was not their own but his. He never doubted that 
they could be seen. Yet, even thus partially, they 
manifested — terrifically. He was aware of their 
overshadowing presences. Sight, after all, was an 
incomplete form of knowing — a thing he had left 
behind — elsewhere. It belonged, with the other 
limited sense-channels, to some attenuated dream 
now all forgotten. Now he knew all over. He 
himself was of them. 

' I am home ! ' it seems he cried as he ran 
cantering across the sunny slopes. 'At last I have 
found you ! Home . . . ! ' and the stones shot 
wildly from his thundering tread. 

A roar of windy power filled the sky, and far 
away that echoing tramping paused to listen. 

' We have called you ! Come ! . . .' 

And the forms moved down slowly from their 
mountainous pedestals; the woods breathed out a 
sigh ; the running water sang ; the slopes all 
murmured through their grass and flowers. For a 
worshipper, strayed from the outer world of the dead 
stood within the precincts of their ancient temple. 
He had passed the Angel with the flaming sword those 
very dead had set there long ago. The Garden now 
enclosed him. He had found the heart of the Earth, 
his mother. Self-realization in the perfect union with 
Nature was fulfilled. He knew the Great At-one- 
ment. 

The quiet of the dawn still lay upon the world ; 
dew sparkled ; the air was keen and fresh. Yet, in 



264 THE CENTAUR xxxvi 

spite of all this vast sense of energy, this vigour and 
delight, O'Malley no longer felt the least goading of 
excitement. There was this animation and this fine 
delight ; but craving for sensation of any kind, was 
gone. Excitement, as it tortured men in that outer 
world he had left, could not exist in this larger state 
of being ; for excitement is the appetite for some- 
thing not possessed, magnified artificially till it has 
become a condition of dis-ease. All that he needed 
was now contained within himself; he was at-ease ; 
and, literally, that unrest which men miscall delight 
could touch him not nor torture him again. 

If this were death — how exquisite ! 

And Time was not a passing thing, for it lay, he 
says, somehow in an ocean everywhere, heaped up in 
gulfs and spaces. It was as though he could help 
himself and take it. That morning, had he so 
wished, could last for ever ; he could go backwards 
and taste the shadows of the night again, or forward 
and bask in the glory of hot noon. There were no 
parts of things, and so no restlessness, no sense of 
incompleteness, no divisions. 

This quiet of the dawn lay in himself, and, since 
he loved it, lay there, cool and sweet and sparkling 
for — years ; almost — for ever. 

Moreover, while this giant form of Urweli-\ife 
his inner self had assumed was new, it yet seemed 
somehow familiar. The speed and weight and 
power caused him no distress, there was no detail 
that he could not manage easily. To race thus o'er 
the world, keeping pace with an eternal dawn, was as 
simple as for the Earth herself to spin through space. 
His union with her was as complete as that. In 
every item of her being lay the wonder of her perfect 



I 



xxxvi THE CENTAUR 265 

form — a sphere. It was complete. Nothing could 
add to it. 

Yet, while all recollection of his former, pettier 
self was gone, he began presently to remember — men. 
Though never in relation to himself, he retained 
dimly a picture of that outer world of strife and 
terror. As a memory of illness he recalled it — 
dreadfully, a nightmare fever from which he had 
recovered, its horror already fading out. Cities and 
crowds, poverty, illness, pain and all the various 
terror of Civilization, robbed of the power to afflict, 
yet still hung hovering about the surface of his 
consciousness, though powerless to break his 
peace. 

For the power to understand it vanished ; no 
part of him knew sympathy with it ; so clearly he 
now saw himself sharing the Earth, that a vague 
wonder filled him when he recalled the mad desires 
of men to possess external forms of things. It was 
amazing and perplexing. How could they ever 
have devised such wild and childish efforts — all in 
the wrong direction ? 

If that outer life were the real one how could any 
intelligent being think it worth while to live ? How 
could any thinking man hold up his head and walk 
along the street with dignity if that was what he 
believed .'' Was a man satisfied with it worth 
keeping alive at all? What bigger scheme could 
ever use him ? The direction of modern life to-day 
was diametrically away from happiness and truth. 

Peace was the word he knew, peace and a singing 
joy. 

He played with the Earth's great dawn and raced 
along these mountains through her mind. Of course 



266 THE CENTAUR xxxvi 

the hills could dance and sing and clap their hands. 
He saw it clear. How could it be otherwise ? 
They were expressions of her giant moods — what in 
himself were thoughts — phases of her ample, surging 
Consciousness. . . . 

He passed with the sunlight down the laughing 
valleys, spread with the morning wind above the 
woods, shone on the snowy peaks, and leaped with a 
rushing laughter among the crystal streams. These 
were his swift and darting signs of joy, words of his 
singing as it were. His main and central being 
swung with the pulse of the Earth, too great for any 
telling. 

He read the book of Nature all about him, yes, 
but read it singing. He understood how this 
patient Mother hungered for her myriad lost children, 
how in the passion of her summers she longed to 
bless them, to wake their high yearnings with the 
sweetness of her springs, and to whisper through her 
autumns how she prayed for their return . . . ! 

Instinctively he read the giant Page before him. 
For * every form in nature is a symbol of an idea 
and represents a sign or letter. A succession of such 
symbols forms a language ; and he who is a true 
child of nature may understand this language and 
know the character of everything. His mind 
becomes a mirror wherein the attributes of natural 
things are reflected and enter the field of his 
consciousness. . . . For man himself is but a 
thought pervading the ocean of mind.' 

Whether or not he remembered these stammering 
yet pregnant words from the outer world now left 
behind, the truth they shadowed forth rose up 
and took him . . . and so he flowed across the 
mountains like a thing of wind and cloud, and so at 



I 



I 



XXXVI THE CENTAUR 267 

length came up with the stragglers of that mighty 
herd of Urwelt life. He joined them in a river-bed 
of those ancient valleys. They welcomed him and 
took him to themselves. 

For the particular stratum, as it were, of the 
Earth's enormous Collective Consciousness to which 
he belonged, or rather that part and corner in which 
he was first at home, lay with these lesser ancient 
forms. Although aware of far mightier expressions of 
her life, he could not yet readily perceive or join them. 
And this was easily comprehensible by the analogy 
of his own smaller consciousness. Did not his own 
mind hold thoughts of various kinds that could not 
readily mingle ^ His thoughts of play and frolic, 
for instance, could not combine with the august and 
graver sentiments of awe and worship, though both 
could dwell together in the same heart. And here 
apparently, as yet, he only touched that frolicsome 
fringe of consciousness that knew these wild and 
playful lesser forms. Thus, while he was aware of 
other more powerful figures of wonder all about him, 
he never quite achieved their full recognition. The 
ordered, deeper strata of her Consciousness to which 
they belonged still lay beyond him. 

Yet everywhere he fringed them. They haunted 
the entire world. They brooded hugely with a 
kind of deep magnificence that was like the slow 
brooding of the Seasons ; they rose, looming and 
splendid, through the air and sky, proud, strong, 
and tragic. For, standing aloof from all the rest, 
in isolation, like dreams in a poet's mind, too potent 
for expression, they thus knew tragedy — the tragedy 
of long neglect and loneliness. 

Seated on peak and ridge, rising beyond the 



268 THE CENTAUR xxxvi 

summits in the clouds, filling the valleys, spread over 
watercourse and forest, they passed their life of lonely 
majesty — apart, their splendour too remote for him 
as yet to share. Long since had Earth withdrawn 
them from the hearts of men. Her lesser children 
knew them no more. But still through the deep 
recesses of her further consciousness they thundered 
and were glad . . . though few might hear that 
thunder, share that awful joy. . . . 

Even the Irishman — who in ordinary life had felt 
instinctively that worship which is close to love, and 
so to the union that love brings — even he, in this 
new-found freedom, only partially discerned their 
presences. He felt them now, these stately Powers 
men once called the gods, but felt them from a 
distance ; and from a distance, too, they saw and 
watched him come. He knew their gorgeous forms 
half dimmed by a remote and veiled enchantment ; 
knew that they reared aloft like ancient towers, 
ruined by neglect and ignorance, starved and lonely, 
but still hauntingly splendid and engaging, still 
terrifically alive. And it seemed to him that some- 
times their awful eyes flashed with the sunshine over 
slope and valley, and that wherever they rested flowers 
sprang to life. 

Their nearness sometimes swept him like a storm, 
and then the entire herd with which he mingled 
would stand abruptly still, caught by a wave of awe 
and wonder. The host of them stood still upon the 
grass, their frolic held a moment, their voices hushed, 
only deep panting audible and the soft shuffling of 
their hoofs among the flowers. They bowed their 
splendid heads and waited — while a god went past 
them. . . . And through himself, as witness of the 
passage, a soft, majestic power also swept. With the 



XXXV. THE CENTAUR 269 

lift of a hurricane, yet with the gentleness of dew, he 
felt the noblest in himself irresistibly evoked. It was 
gone again as soon as come. It passed. But it left 
him charged with a regal confidence and joy. As in 
the mountains a shower of snow picks out the highest 
peaks in white, tracing its course and pattern over 
the entire range, so in himself he knew the highest 
powers — aspirations, yearnings, hopes — raised into 
shining, white activity, and by these quickened 
splendours of his soul could recognize the nature ot 
the god who came so close. 

And, keeping mostly to the river-beds, they 
splashed in the torrents, played and leaped and 
cantered. From the openings of many a moist cave 
others came to join them. Below a certain level, 
though, they never went ; the forests knew them 
not ; they loved the open, windy heights. They 
turned and circulated as by a common consent, 
wheeling suddenly together as if a single desire 
actuated the entire mass. One instinct spread, as it 
were, among the lot, shared instantly, conveying to 
each at once the general impulse. Their movements 
in this were like those of birds whose flight in coveys 
obeys the order of a collective consciousness of which 
each single one is an item — expressions of one single 
Bird-Idea behind, distributed through all. 

And O'Malley without questioning or hesitation 
obeyed, while yet he was free to do as he wished 
alone. To do as they did was the greatest pleasure, 
that was all. 

For sometimes with two of them, one fully-formed, 
the other of lesser mould — he flew on little journeys 
of his own. These two seemed nearer to him than 
the rest. He felt he knew them and had been with 



270 THE CENTAUR xxxvi 

them before. Their big brown eyes continually 
sought his own with pleasure. It almost seemed as 
if they had all three been separated long away from 
one another, and had at last returned. No definite 
memory of the interval came back, however ; the sea, 
the steamer, and the journey's incidents all had 
faded — part of that world of lesser insignificant dream 
where they had happened. But these two kept close 
to him ; they ran and danced together. . . . 

The time that passed included many dawns and 
nights and also many noons of splendour. It all 
seemed endless, perfect, and serene. That anything 
could finish here did not once occur to him. Com- 
plete things cannot finish. He passed through seas 
and gulfs of glorious existence. For the strange 
thing was that while he only remembered afterwards 
the motion, play, and laughter, he yet had these 
other glimpses here and there of some ordered and 
progressive life existing just beyond. It lay hidden 
deeper within. He skimmed its surface ; but some- 
thing prevented his knowing it fully. And the 
limitation that held him back belonged, it seemed, 
to that thin world of trivial dreaming he had left 
behind. He had not shaken it off entirely. It still 
obscured his sight. 

The scale and manner of this greater life faintly 
reached him, nothing more. It may be that he only 
failed to bring back recollection, or it may be that he 
did not penetrate deeply enough to know. At any 
rate, he recognized that this sudden occasional passing 
by of vast deific figures had to do with it, and that 
all this ocean of Earth's deeper Consciousness was 
peopled with forms of life that obeyed some splendid 
system of progressive ordered existence. To be 
gathered up in this one greater consciousness was 




XXXVI THE CENTAUR 271 

not the end. . . . Rather was it merely the begin- 
ning. . . . 

Meantime he learned that here, among these lesser 
thoughts of the great Mother, all the Pantheons of 
the world had first their origin — the Greek, the 
Eastern, and the Northern too. Here all the gods 
that men have ever half divined, still ranged the 
moods of Her timeless consciousness. Their train of 
beauty, too, accompanied them. 

I cannot half recall the streams of passionate 
description with which his words clothed these 
glowing memories of his vision. Great pictures of 
it haunt the background of my mind, pictures that 
lie in early mists, framed by the stars and glimmering 
through some golden, flowered dawn. Besides the 
huger outlines that stood breathing in the back- 
ground like dark mountains, there flitted here and 
there strange dreamy forms of almost impossible 
beauty, slender as lilies, eyes soft and starry shining 
through the dusk, hair flying past them like a rain 
of summer flowers. Nymph-like they moved down 
all the pathways of the Earth's young mind, singing 
and radiant, spring blossoms in the Garden of her 
Consciousness. . . . And other forms, more vehement 
and rude, urged to and fro across the pictures ; 
crowding the movement ; some playful and protean ; 
some clothed as with trees, or air, or water ; and 
others dark, remote, and silent, ranging her deeper 
layers of thought and dream, known rarely to the 
outer world at all. 

The rush and glory of it all is more than my mind 
can deal with. I gather, though, O'Malley saw no 
definite forms, but rather knew ' forces,' powers, 
aspects of this Soul of Earth, facets she showed in 



272 THE CENTAUR xxxvi 

long-forgotten days to men. Certainly the very 
infusoria of his imagination were kindled and aflame 
when he spoke of them. Through the tangled 
thicket of his ordinary mind there shone this passion 
of an uncommon loveliness and splendour. 



I 



I 



XXXVII 

'The hours when the mind is absorbed by beauty are the only 
hours when we really live, so that the longer we can stay among these 
things, so much the more is snatched from inevitable time.' — Richard 
Jefferies. 

In the relationship that his everyday mind bore 
to his present state there lay, moreover, a wealth 
of pregnant suggestion. The bridge connecting his 
former ' civilized ' condition with this cosmic ex- 
perience was a curious one. That outer, lesser 
state, it seemed, had known a foretaste sometimes of 
the greater. And it was hence had come those 
dreams of a Golden Age that used to haunt him. 

For he began now to recall the existence of that 
outer world of men and women, though by means 
of certain indefinite channels only. And the things 
he remembered were not what the world calls 
important. They were moments when he had 
known — beauty ; beauty, however, not of the 
grandiose sort that holds the crowd, but of so 
simple and unadvertised a kind that most men over- 
look it altogether. 

He understood now why the thrill had been so 
wonderful. He saw clearly why those moments of 
ecstasy he had often felt in Nature used to torture 
him with an inexpressible yearning that was rather 
pain than joy. For they were precisely what he now 

273 T 



274 THE CENTAUR xxxvii 

experienced when the viewless figure of a god passed 
by him. Down there, out there, below — in that 
cabined lesser state — they had been partial, but were 
now complete. Those moments of worship he had 
known in woods, among mountains, by the shores of 
desolate seas, even in a London street, perhaps at the 
sight of a tree in spring or of a pathway of blue sky 
between the summer clouds, — these had been, one and 
all, tentative, partial revelations of the Consciousness 
of the Soul of Earth he now knew face to face. 

These were his only memories of that outer world. 
Of people, cities, or of civilization apart from these, 
he had no single remembrance. 

Certain of these little partial foretastes now came 
back to him, like fragments of dream that trouble the 
waking day. 

He remembered, for instance, one definite picture : 
a hot autumn sun upon a field of stubble where the 
folded corn-sheaves stood ; thistles waving by the 
hedges ; a yellow field of mustard rising up the slope 
against the sky-line, and beyond a row of peering elms 
that rustled in the wind. The beauty of the little 
scene was somehow poignant. He recalled it vividly. 
It had flamed about him, transfiguring the world ; he 
had trembled, yearning to see more, for just behind 
it he divined with an exulting passionate worship this 
gorgeous, splendid Earth-Being with whom at last he 
now actually moved. In that instant of a simple 
loveliness her consciousness had fringed his own — 
had bruised it. He had known it only by the partial 
channels of sight and smell and hearing, but had felt 
the greater thing beyond, without being able to 
explain it. And a portion of what he felt had burst 
in speech from his lips. 



I 



XXXVII THE CENTAUR 275 

He was there, he remembered, with two persons, 
a man and woman whose name and face, however, 
he could not summon, and he recalled that the 
woman smiled incredulously when he spoke of the 
exquisite perfume of those folded corn-sheaves in the 
air. She told him he imagined it. He saw again 
the pretty woman's smile of incomprehension ; he 
saw the puzzled expression in the eyes of the man ; 
he heard him murmur something prosaic about the 
soul, about birds, too, and the prospects of killing 
hundreds later — sport ! He even saw the woman 
picking her way with caution as though the touch 
of earth could stain or injure her. He especially 
recalled the silence that had followed on his words 
that sought to show them — Beauty. . . . He 
remembered, too, above all, the sense of loneliness 
among men that it induced in himself. 

But the memory brought him a curious, sharp 
pain ; and turning to that couple who were now his 
playmates in this Garden of the Earth, he called 
them with a singing cry and cantered over leagues of 
flowers, wind, and sunshine before he stopped again. 
They leaped and danced together, exulting in their 
spacious Urwelt freedom . . . want of comprehen- 
sion no longer possible. 

The memory fled away. He shook himself free 
of it. Then others came in its place, another and 
another, not all with people, blind, deaf, and un- 
receptive, yet all of ' common,' simple scenes of 
beauty when something vast had surged upon him 
and broken through the barriers that stand between 
the heart and Nature. Such curious little scenes 
they were. In most of them he had evidently been 
alone. But one and all had touched his soul with 



276 THE CENTAUR xxxvn 

a foretaste of this same nameless ecstasy that now he 
knew complete. In every one the Consciousness of 
the Earth had ' bruised ' his own. 

Utterly simple they had been, one and all, these 
partial moments of blinding beauty in that lesser, 
outer world : — A big, brown, clumsy bee he saw, 
blundering into the petals of a wild-flower on which 
the dew lay sparkling. ... A wisp of coloured 
cloud driving loosely across the hills, dropping a 
purple shadow. . . . Deep, waving grass, plunging 
and shaking in the wind that drew out its under- 
world of blue and silver over the whole spread surface 
of a field. ... A daisy closed for the night upon 
the lawn, eyes tightly shut, hands folded. ... A 
south wind whispering through larches. . . . The 
pattering of summer rain upon young oak leaves in 
the dawn. . . . Fingers of long blue distance upon 
dreamy woods. . . . Anemones shaking their pale and 
starry little faces in the wind. . . . The columned 
stillness of a pinewood in the dusk. . . . Young 
birch trees mid the velvet gloom of firs. . . . The 
new moon setting in a cloud of stars. . . . The hush 
of stars in many a summer night. . . . Sheep grazing 
idly down a sun-baked hill. . , . A path of moonlight 
on a lake. ... A little wind through bare and wintry 
woods. . . . Oh ! he recalled the wonder, loveliness, 
and passion of a thousand more ! 

They thronged and passed, and thronged again, 
crowding one another : — all golden moments of 
revelation when he had caught glimpses of the Earth, 
and her greater Moods had swept him up into 
herself. Moments in which a god had passed. . . . 

These were his only memories of that outer world 
he had left behind : flashes of simple beauty. 

Was thus the thrill of beauty then explained ? 




xxxvii THE CENTAUR 277 

Was loveliness, as men know it, a revelation of the 
Earth-Soul behind ? And were the blinding flash, the 
dazzling wonder, and the dream men seek to render 
permanent in music, colour, line and language, a 
vision of her nakedness ? Down there, the poets and 
those simple enough of heart to stand close to Nature, 
could catch these whispered fragments of the enormous 
message, told as in secret ; but now, against her very 
heart he heard the thunder of the thing complete. 
Now, in the glory of all naked bodily forms, — of 
women, men and children, of swift animals, of flowers, 
trees, and running water, of mountains and of seas, — 
he understood these partial revelations of the great 
Earth-Soul that bore them, gave them life. For one 
and all were channels for her loveliness. He saw the 
beauty of the ' natural ' instincts, the passion of 
motherhood and fatherhood — Earth's seeking to 
project herself in endless forms and variety. He 
understood why love increased the heart and made 
it feel at one with all the world. 

Moreover in some amazing fashion he was aware 
that others from that outer world beside himself 
had access here, and that from this Garden of the 
Earth's deep central personality came all the inspira- 
tion known to men. He divined that others were 
even now drawing upon it like himself. The 
thoughts of the poets went past him like thin 
flames ; the dreams of millions — mute, inexpressible 
yearnings like those he had himself once known — 
streamed by in pale white light, to shoot forward 
with a little nesting rush into some great Figure . . . 
and then return in double volume to the dreaming 
heart whence first they issued. Shadows, too, he 
saw, by myriads — faint, feeble gropings of men and 



278 THE CENTAUR xxxvii 

women seeking it eagerly, yet hardly knowing what 
they sought ; but, above all, long, singing, beautiful 
tongues of coloured flame that were the instincts of 
divining children and of the pure in heart. These 
came in rippling floods unerringly to their goal, 
lingered for long periods before returning. And 
all, he knew, were currents of the great Earth Life, 
moods, thoughts, dreams — expressions of her various 
Consciousness with which she mothered, fed, and 
blessed all whom it was possible to reach. Their pas- 
sionate yearning, their worship, made access possible. 
Along the tenderest portions of her personality these 
latter came, as by a spread network of infinitely deli- 
cate filaments that extended from herself, deliciously 
inviting. . . . 

The thing, however, that remained with him 
long after his return to the normal state of lesser 
consciousness was the memory of those blinding 
moments when a god went past him, or, as he 
phrased it in another way, when he caught glimpses 
of the Earth — naked. For these were instantaneous 
flashes of a gleaming whiteness, a dazzling and 
supreme loveliness that staggered thought and 
arrested feeling, while yet of a radiant simplicity 
that brought — for a second at least — a measure of 
comprehension. 

He then knew not mere partial projections. He 
saw beyond — deep down into the flaming centre 
that gave them birth. The blending of his being 
with the Cosmic Consciousness was complete enough 
for this. He describes it as a spectacle of sheer 
glory, stupendous, even terrifying. The refulgent 
majesty of it utterly possessed him. The shock of 
its magnificence came, moreover, upon his entire 




XXXVII THE CENTAUR 279 

being, and was not really of course a ' sight ' at all. 
The message came not through any small division of 
a single sense. With a massed yet soaring power it 
shook him free of all known categories. He then 
fringed a region of yet greater being wherein he 
tasted for a moment some secret comprehension of a 
true ' divinity.' The deliverance into ecstasy was 
complete. 

In these flashing moments, when a second seemed 
a thousand years, he further understood the splendour 
of the stage beyond. Earth in her turn was but a 
Mood in the Consciousness of the Universe, that 
Universe again was mothered by another vaster 
one . . . and the total that included them all was 
not the gods — but God. 



XXXVIII 

The litter ot disordered note-books filled to the 
covers with fragments of such beauty that they 
almost seem to burn with a light of their own, lies at 
this moment before me on my desk. I still hear 
the rushing torrent of his language across the spotted 
table-cloth in that dark restaurant corner. But the 
incoherence seems only to increase with my best 
efforts to combine the two. 

* Go home and dream it,' as he said at last when 
I ventured a question here and there towards the 
end of the recital. ' You'll see it best that way — in 
sleep. Get clear away from me^ and my surface 
physical consciousness. Perhaps it will come to you 
then.' 

There remains, however, to record the manner of 
his exit from that great Garden of the Earth's fair 
youth. And he tells it more simply. Or, perhaps, 
it is that I understand it better. 

For suddenly, in the midst of all the joy and 
splendour that he tasted, there came unbidden a 
strengthening of the tie that held him to his * outer,' 
lesser state. A wave of pity and compassion surged 
in upon him from the depths. He saw the struggling 
millions in the prisons and cages civihzation builds. 
He felt with them. No happiness, he understood, 

280 



XXXVIII 



THE CENTAUR 281 



I 



could be complete that did not also include them all ; 
and — he longed to tell them. The thought and the 
desire tore across him burningly. 

* If only I can get this back to them ! ' passed 
through him, like a flame. ' I'll save the world by 
bringing it again to simple things ! I've only got to 
tell it and all will understand at once — and follow ! ' 

And with the birth of the desire there ran a deep 
convulsive sound like music through the greater 
Consciousness that held him close. Those Moods 
that were the gods, thronged gloriously about him, 
almost pressing forwards into actual sight. . . . He 
might have lingered where he was for centuries, or 
for ever ; but this thought pulled him back — the 
desire to share his knowledge with the world, the 
passion to heal and save and rescue. 

And instantly, in the twinkling of an eyelid, the 
Urwelt closed its gates of horn and ivory behind 
him. An immense dark shutter dropped noiselessly 
with a speed of lightning across his mind. He 
stood without. . . . 

He found himself near the tumbled-down stone 
huts of a hamlet that he recognized. He staggered, 
rubbed his eyes, and stared. A forest of beech trees 
shook below him in a violent wind. He saw the 
branches tossing. A Caucasian saddle-horse beside 
him nosed a sack that spilt its flour on the ground 
at his feet, he heard the animal's noisy breathing ; 
he noted the sliding movement of the spilt flour 
before it finally settled ; and some fifty yards beyond 
him, down the slopes, he saw a human figure — 
running. 

It was his Georgian guide. The man, half 
stooping, caught the woollen bashlik that had fallen 
from his head. 



282 



THE CENTAUR 



XXXVIII 



O'Malley watched the man complete the gesture. 
Still running, he replaced the cap upon his head. 

And coming up to his ears upon the wind were 
the words of a broken French sentence that he 
also recognized. Disjointed by terror, it completed 
an interrupted phrase : — 

* . . . one of them is close upon us. Hide 
your eyes ! Save yourself ! They come from the 
mountains. They are old as the stones . . . 



run 



No other living being was in sight. 




XXXIX 

The extraordinary abruptness of the transition pro- 
duced no bewilderment, it seems. Realizing that 
without Rostom he would be in a position of helpless- 
ness that might be serious, the Irishman put his hands 
to his lips and called out with authority to the running 
figure of his frightened guide. He shouted to him 
to stop. 

' There is nothing to fear. Come back ! Are 
you afraid of a gust of wind ? ' 

And in his face and voice, perhaps too in his 
manner, was something he had brought back from 
the vision, for the man stopped at once in his headlong 
course, paused a moment to stare and question, and 
then, though still looking over his shoulder and 
making occasional signs of his religion, came slowly 
back to his employer's side again. 

' It has passed,' said O'Malley in a voice that 
seemed to crumble in his mouth. * It is gone again 
into the mountains whence it came. We are safe. 
With me,' he added, not without a secret sense of 
humour stirring in him, ' you will always be safe. 
I can protect us both.' He felt as normal as a 
British officer giving orders to his soldiers. And the 
Georgian slowly recovered his composure, yet for a 
long time keeping close to the other's side. 

283 



284 THE CENTAUR xxxix 

The transition, thus, had been as sudden and 
complete as anything well could be. O'Malley 
described it as the instantaneous dropping of a shutter 
across his mind. The entire vision had lasted but a 
fraction of a second, and in a fraction of a second, 
too, he had returned to his state of everyday lesser 
consciousness. That blending with the Earth's great 
Consciousness was but a flashing glimpse after all. 
The extension of personality had been momentary. 

So absolute, moreover, was the return that at first, 
remembering nothing, he took up life again exactly 
where he had left it. The guide completed the 
gesture and the sentence which the vision had inter- 
rupted, and O'Malley, similarly, resumed his own 
thread of thought and action. 

Only a hint remained. That, and a curious sense 
of interval, alone were left to witness this flash of an 
immense vision, — of cosmic consciousness — that 
apparently had filled so many days and nights. 

' It was like waking suddenly in the night out of 
deep sleep,' he said; 'not of one's own accord, or gradu- 
ally, but as when someone shakes you out of slumber 
and you are wide awake at once. You have been 
dreaming vigorously — thick, lively, crowded dreams, 
and they all vanish on the instant. You catch the 
tail-end of the procession just as it's diving out of 
sight. In less than a second all is gone.' 

For this was the hint that remained. He caught 
the flying tail-end of the vision. He knew he had 
seen something. But, for the moment, that was all. 

Then, by degrees and afterwards, the details re- 
emerged. In the days that followed, while with 
Rostom he completed the journey already planned, 
the deeper consciousness gave back its memory piece 
by piece ; and piece by piece he set it down in note- 



I 



XXXIX THE CENTAUR 285 

books as best he could. The memory was on deposit 
deep within him, and at intervals he tapped it. Hence, 
of course, is due the confused and fragmentary 
character of those bewildering entries ; hence, at the 
same time, too, their truth and value. For here was 
no imaginative dream concocted in a mood of high 
invention. The parts were disjointed, incomplete, 
just as they came. The lesser consciousness, it seems, 
could not contain the thing complete ; nor to the 
last, I judge, did he ever know complete recapture. 

They wandered for two weeks and more about the 
mountains, meeting various adventure by the way, 
reported duly in his letters of travel. But these con- 
cerned the outer man and have no proper place in this 
strange record . . . and by the middle of July 
he found himself once more in — civilization. At 
Michaelevo he said good-bye to Rostom and took 
the train. 

And it was with the return to the conditions of 
modern life that the reaction set in and stirred the 
deeper layers of consciousness to reproduce their store 
of magic. For this return to what seemed the paltry 
activities of an age of machinery, physical luxury, and 
superficial contrivances brought him a sense of pain 
that was acute and trenchant, more — a deep and 
poignant sense of loss. The yearnings, no longer 
satisfied, began again to reassert themselves. It was 
not the actual things the world seemed so busy about 
that pained him, but rather the point of view from 
which the world approached them — those that it 
deemed with one consent ' important,' and those, with 
rare exceptions, it obviously deemed worth no 
consideration at all, and ignored. For himself these 
values stood exactly reversed. 



286 THE CENTAUR xxxix 

The Vision then came back to him, rose from the 
depths, blinded his eyes with maddening beauty, sang 
in his ears, possessed his heart and mind. He burned 
to tell it. The world of tired, restless men, he felt, 
must equally burn to hear it. Some vision of a simple 
life lived close to Nature came before his inner eye as 
the remedy for the vast disease of restless self-seeking 
of the age, the medicine that should cure the entire 
world. A return to Nature was the first step towards 
the great Deliverance men sought. And, most of 
all, he yearned to tell it first to Heinrich Stahl. 

To hear him talk about it, as he talked perhaps to 
me alone, was genuinely pathetic, for here, in Terence 
O'Malley, I thought to see the essential futility of 
all dreamers nakedly revealed. His vision was so 
fine, sincere, and noble ; his difficulty in imparting it 
so painful ; and its^inarriage with practical action so 
ludicrously impracticable, At any rate that combina- 
tion of vision and action, called sometimes genius, 
which can shake the world, assuredly was not his. 
For his was no constructive mind ; he was not 
' intellectual ' ; he saw^ but with the heart ; he could 
not build. To plan a new Utopia was as impossible 
to him as to shape even in words the splendour he 
had known and lived. Bricks and straw could only 
smother him before he laid what most would deem 
foundations. 

At first, too, in those days while waiting for the 
steamer in Batoum, he kept strangely silent. Even 
in his own thoughts was silence. He could not speak 
of what he knew. Even paper refused it. But all 
the time this glorious winged thing, that yet was simple 
as the sunlight or the rain, went by his side, while 
his soul knew the relief of some divine, proud utterance 
that, he felt, could never know complete confession 



I 



XXXIX THE CENTAUR 287 

in speech or writing. Later he stammered over it — 
to his note-books and to me, and partially also to 
Dr. Stahl. But at first it dwelt alone and hidden, 
contained in this deep silence. 

The days of waiting he filled with walks about the 
streets, watching the world with new eyes. He took 
the Russian steamer to Poti, and tramped with a 
knapsack up the Tchourokh gorge beyond Bourtchka, 
regardless of the Turkish gypsies and encampments 
of wild peoples on the banks. The sense of personal 
danger was impossible ; he felt the whole world kin. 
That sense protected him. Pistol and cartridges lay 
in his bag, forgotten at the hotel. 

Delight and pain lay oddly mingled in him. The 
pain he recognized of old, but this great radiant 
happiness was new. The nightmare of modern 
cheap] ack life was all explained ; unjustified, of course, 
as he had always dimly felt, symptom of deep disorder ; 
all due, this feverish, external business, to an odd 
misunderstanding with the Earth. Humanity had 
somehow quarrelled with her, claiming an independ- 
ence that could not really last. For her the centuries 
of this estrangement was but a little thing perhaps — 
a moment or two in that huge life which counted a 
million years to lay a narrow bed of chalk. They 
would come back in time. Meanwhile she ever called. 
A fcWy perhaps, already dreamed of return. Move- 
ments, he had heard, were afoot — a tentative endeavour 
here and there. They heard, these few, the splendid 
whisper that, sweetly calling, ever passed about the 
world. 

For her voice in the last resort was more potent 
than all others — an enchantment that never wholly 
faded ; men had but temporarily left her mighty 
sides and gone astray, eating of trees of knowledge 



288 THE CENTAUR xxxix 

that brought them deceptive illusions of a mad self- 
intoxication ; fallen away into the pains of separate- 
ness and death. Loss of direction and central control 
was the result ; the babel of many tongues so clumsily 
invented, by which all turned one against another. 
Insubordinate, artificial centres had assumed disastrous 
command. Each struggled for himself against his 
neighbours. Even religions fought to the blood. 
A single sect could damn the rest of humanity, yet 
in the same breath sing complaisantly of its own 
Heaven. 

Meanwhile She smiled in love and patience, letting 
them learn their lesson ; meanwhile She watched and 
waited while, like foolish children, they toiled and 
sweated after futile transient things that brought no 
single letter of content. She let them coin their 
millions from her fairest thoughts, the gold and 
silver in her veins ; and let them turn it into 
engines of destruction, knowing that each ' life lost,' 
returned into her arms and heart, crying with the 
pain of its wayward foolishness, the lesson learned ; 
She watched their tears and struggling just outside 
the open nursery door, knowing they must at length 
return for food ; and while thus waiting, watching. 
She heard all prayers that reached her ; She answered 
them with love and forgiveness ever ready ; and to 
the few who realized their folly — naughtiness, perhaps, 
at worst it was — this side of ' death,' She brought full 
measure of peace and joy and beauty. 

Not permanently could they hurt themselves, for 
evil was but distance from her side, the ignorance of 
those who had wandered furthest into the little dark 
labyrinth of a separated self. The ' intellect ' they 
were so proud of had misled them. 

And sometimes, here and there across the ages. 




XXXIX THE CENTAUR 289 

with a glory that refused utterly to be denied, She 
thundered forth her old sweet message of deliverance. 
Through poet, priest, or child she called her children 
home. The summons rang like magic across the 
wastes of this dreary separated existence. Some 
heard and listened, some turned back, some wondered 
and were strangely thrilled ; some, thinking it too 
simple to be true, were puzzled by the yearning and 
the tears and went back to seek for a more difficult 
way ; while most, denying the secret glory in their 
hearts, sought to persuade themselves they loved the 
strife and hurrying fever best. 

At other times, again, she chose quite different 
ways, and sent the amazing message in a flower, a 
breath of evening air, a shell upon the shore ; though 
oftenest, perhaps, it hid in a strain of music, a patch 
of colour on the sea or hills, a rustle of branches in 
a little twilight wind, a whisper in the dusk or in 
the dawn. He remembered his own first visions 
of it. . . . 

Only never could the summons come to her 
children through the intellect, for this it was that 
led them first away. Her message enters ever by 
the heart. 

The simple life ! He smiled as he thought of the 
bald Utopias here and there devised by men, for he 
had seen a truth whose brilliance smote his eyes too 
dazzlingly to permit of the smallest corner of dark- 
ness. Remote, no doubt, in time that day when the 
lion shall lie down with the lamb and men shall live 
together in peace and gentleness ; when the inner life 
shall be admitted as the Reality, strife, gain, and loss 
unknown because possessions undesired, and petty 
selfhood merged in the larger life — remote, of course, 
yet surely not impossible. He had seen the Face 

u 



290 THE CENTAUR xxxix 

of Nature, heard her Call, tasted her joy and peace ; 
and the rest of the tired world might do the same. 
It only waited to be shown the way. The truth he 
now saw so dazzling was that all who heard the call 
might know it for themselves at once, cuirassed with 
shining love that makes the whole world kin, the 
Earth a mother literally divine. Each soul might 
thus provide a channel along which the summons 
home should pass across the world. To live with 
Nature and share her greater consciousness, en route 
for states yet greater, nearer to the eternal home — 
this was the beginning of the truth, the life, the 
way. 

He saw ' religion ' all explained : and those hard 
sayings that make men turn away : — the imagined 
dread of losing life to find it ; the counsel of per- 
fection that the neighbour shall be loved as self ; the 
fancied injury and outrage that made it hard for rich 
men to enter the kingdom. Of these, as of a hundred 
other sayings, he saw the necessary truth. It all 
seemed easy now. The world would see it with 
him ; it must ; it could not help itself Simplicity 
as of a little child, and selflessness as of the mystic — 
these were the splendid clues. 

Death and the grave, indeed, had lost their victory. 
For in the stages of wider consciousness beyond this 
transient physical phase he saw all loved ones joined 
and safe, as separate words upgathered each to each 
in the parent sentence that explains them, the sentence 
in the paragraph, the paragraph in the whole grand 
story all achieved — and so at length into the eternal 
library of God that consummates the whole. 

He saw . the glorious series, timeless and serene, 
advancing to the climax, and somehow understood 
that individuality at each stage was never lost but 



I 



XXXIX THE CENTAUR 291 

rather extended and magnified. Love of the Earth, 
life close to Nature, and denial of so-called civiliza- 
tion was the first step upwards. In the Simple Life, 
in this return to Nature, lay the opening of the little 
path that climbed to the stars and heaven. 



I 



XL 

At the end of the week the little steamer dropped 
her anchor in the harbour and the Irishman booked 
his passage home. He was standing on the wharf 
to watch the unloading when a hand tapped him on 
the shoulder and he heard a well-known voice. His 
heart leaped with pleasure. There were no pre- 
liminaries between these two. 

' I am glad to sec you safe. You did not find 
your friend, then ? ' 

O'Malley looked at the bronzed face beside him, 
noted the ragged tobacco-stained beard, and saw the 
look of genuine welcome in the twinkling brown 
eyes. He watched him lift his cap and mop that 
familiar dome of bald head. 

' I'm safe,' was all he answered, ' because I found 
him.' 

For a moment Dr. Stahl looked puzzled. He 
dropped the hand he held so tightly and led him 
down the wharf. 

' We'll get out of this devilish sun,' he said, 
leading the way among the tangle of merchandise 
and bales, ' it's enough to boil our brains.' They 
passed through the crowd of swarthy, dripping 
Turks, Georgians, Persians, and Armenians who 
laboured half naked in the heat, and moved towards 
the town. A Russian gunboat lay in the Bay, side 

292 



I 



I 



XL THE CENTAUR 293 

by side with freight and passenger vessels. An oil- 
tank steamer took on cargo. The scene was drenched 
in sunshine. The Black Sea gleamed like molten 
metal. Beyond, the wooded spurs of the Caucasus 
climbed through haze into cloudless blue. 

' It's beautiful,' remarked the German, pointing 
to the distant coast-line, ' but hardly with the beauty 
of those Grecian Isles we passed together. Eh .'' ' 
He watched him closely. ' You're coming back on 
our steamer .? ' he asked in the same breath. 

' It's beautiful,' O'Malley answered ignoring the 
question, * because it lives. But there is dust upon 
its outer loveliness, dust that has gathered through 
long ages of neglect, dust that I would sweep away 
— I've learnt how to do it. He taught me.' 

Stahl did not even look at him, though the words 
were wild enough. He walked at his side in silence. 
Perhaps he partly understood. For this first link 
with the outer world of appearances was difficult for 
him to pick up. The person of Stahl, thick-coated 
with the civilization whence he came, had brought it, 
and out of the ocean of glorious vision in his soul, 
O'Malley took at random the first phrases he could 
find. 

' Yes, I've booked a passage on your steamer,' he 
added presently, remembering the question. It did 
not seem strange to him that his companion ignored 
both clues he offered. He knew the man too well 
for that. It was only that he waited for more before 
he spoke. 

They went to the little table outside the hotel 
pavement where several weeks ago they had drunk 
Kakhetian wine together and talked of deeper things. 
The German called for a bottle, mineral water, ice, 
and cigarettes. And while they sipped the cooling 



294 THE CENTAUR xl 

golden liquid, hats off and coats on the backs of their 
chairs, Stahl gave him the news of the world of men 
and events that had transpired meanwhile. O'Malley 
listened vaguely as he smoked. It seemed remote, 
unreal, almost fantastic, this long string of ugly, 
frantic happenings, all symptoms of some disordered 
state that was like illness. The scream of politics, 
the roar and rattle of flying -machines, financial 
crashes, furious labour upheavals, rumours of war, the 
death of kings and magnates, awful accidents and 
strange turmoil in enormous cities. Details of some 
sad prison life, it almost seemed, pain and distress 
and strife the note that bound them all together. 
Men were mastered by these things instead of master- 
ing them. These unimportant things they thought 
would make them free only imprisoned them. 

They lunched there at the little table in the shade, 
and in turn the Irishman gave an outline of his 
travels. Stahl had asked for it and listened atten- 
tively. The pictures interested him. 

' You've done your letters for the papers,' he 
questioned him, ' and now, perhaps, you'll write a 
book as well .? ' 

' Something may force its way out — come 
blundering, thundering out in fragments, yes.' 

* You mean you'd rather not — ^ ' 

' I mean it's all too big and overwhelming. He 
showed me such blinding splendours. I might tell 
it, but as to writing — ! ' He shrugged his shoulders. 

And this time Dr. Stahl ignored no longer. He 
took him up. But not with any expected words or 
questions. He merely said, ' My friend, there's 
something that I have to tell you — or, rather, I 
should say, to show you.' He looked most keenly 
at him, and in the old familiar way he placed a hand 



XL THE CENTAUR 295 

upon his shoulder. His voice grew soft. ' It may 
upset you ; it may unsettle — prove a shock perhaps. 
But if you are prepared, we'll go ' 

' What kind of shock .? ' O'Malley asked, startled 
a moment by the gravity of manner. 

' The shock of death,' was the answer, gently 
spoken. 

The Irishman only knew a swift rush of joy and 
wonder as he heard it. 

' But there is no such thing ! ' he cried, almost 
with laughter. ' He taught me that above all else. 
There is no death ! ' 

' There is " going away," though,' came the re- 
joinder, spoken low ; ' there is earth to earth and dust 
to dust ' 

' That's of the body ! ' 

' That's of the body, yes,' the older man repeated 
darkly. 

' There is only " going home," escape and freedom. 
I tell you there's only that. It's nothing but joy 
and splendour when you really understand.' 

But Dr. Stahl made no immediate answer, nor any 
comment. He paid the bill and led him down the 
street. They took the shady side. Passing beyond 
the skirts of the town they walked in silence. The 
barracks where the soldiers sang, the railway line to 
Tiflis and Baku, the dome and minarets of the church, 
were left behind in turn, and presently they reached 
the hot, straight dusty road that fringed the sea. 
They heard the crashing of the little waves and 
saw the foam creamily white against the dark grey 
pebbles of the beach. 

And when they reached a small enclosure where 
thin trees were planted among sparse grass all brown 
and withered by the sun, they paused, and Stahl 



296 THE CENTAUR xl 

pointed to a mound, marked at cither end by a 
rough stone boulder. A date was on it, but no name. 
O'Malley calculated the difference between the 
Russian Calendar and the one he was accustomed to. 
Stahl checked him. 

' The fifteenth of June,' the German said. 
' The fifteenth of June, yes,' said O'Malley very 
slowly, but with wonder and excitement in his heart. 
' That was the day that Rostom tried to run away — 
the day I saw him come to me from the trees — the 
day we started off together ... to the Garden. . . .' 
He turned to his companion questioningly. For 
a moment the rush of memory was quite bewildering. 
' He never left Batoum at all, you see,' Stahl 
continued, without looking up. ' He went straight 
to the hospital the day we came into port. I was 
summoned to him in the night — that last night 
while you slept so deeply. His old strange fever 
was upon him then, and I took him ashore before 
the other passengers were astir. I brought him to 
the hospital myself. And he never left his bed.' 
He pointed down to the little nameless grave at 
their feet where a wandering wind from the sea just 
stirred the grasses. ' That was the date on which he 
died.' 

' He went away in the early morning,' he added 
in a low voice that held both sadness and sympathy. 

* He went home,' said the Irishman, a tide of joy 
rising tumultuously through his heart as he re- 
membered. The secret of that complete and absolute 
Leadership was out. He understood it all. It had 
been a spiritual adventure to the last. 
Then followed a pause. 

In silence they stood there for some minutes. 
There grew no flowers on that grave, but O'Malley 



I 



XL THE CENTAUR 297 

stooped down and picked a strand of the withered 
grass. He put it carefully between the pages of his 
note-book ; and then, lying flat against the ground 
where the sunshine fell in a patch of white and 
burning glory, he pressed his lips to the crumbling 
soil. He kissed the Earth. Oblivious of Stahl's 
presence, or at least ignoring it, he worshipped. 

And while he did so he heard that little sound he 
loved so well — which more than any words or music 
brought peace and joy, because it told his Passion all 
complete. With his ears close to the earth he heard 
it, yet at the same time heard it everywhere. For it 
came with the falling of the waves upon the shore, 
through the murmur of the rustling branches over- 
head, and even across the whispering of the withered 
grass about him. Deep down in the centre of the 
mothering Earth he heard it too in faintly rising 
pulse. It was the exquisite little piping on a reed — 
the ancient fluting of the everlasting Pan. . . . 

And when he rose he found that Stahl had turned 
away and was gazing at the sea, as though he had not 
noticed. 

' Doctor,' he cried, yet so softly it was a whisper 
rather than a call, ' I heard it then again ; it's every- 
where ! Oh, tell me that you hear it too ! ' 

Stahl turned and looked at him in silence. There 
was a moisture in his eyes, and on his face a look of 
softness that a woman might have worn. 

' I've brought it back, you see, I've brought it 
back. For that's the message — that's the sound and 
music I must give to all the world. No words, no 
book can tell it.' His hat was ofi^, his eyes were 
shining, his voice broke with the passion of joy he 
yearned to share yet knew so little how to impart. 
' If I can pipe upon the flutes of Pan the millions all 



298 THE CENTAUR xl 

will listen, will understand, and — follow. Tell me, 
oh, tell me, that you heard it too ! ' 

* My friend, my dear young friend,' the German 
murmured in a voice of real tenderness, ' you heard 
it truly — but you heard it in your heart. Few hear 
the Pipes of Pan as you do. Few care to listen. 
To-day the world is full of other sounds that drown 
it. And even of those who hear,' he shrugged his 
shoulders as he led him away towards the sea, — ' how 
few will care to follow — how fewer still will dare^ 

And while they lay upon the beach and watched 
the line of foam against their feet and saw the sea- 
gulls curving idly in the blue and shining air, he 
added underneath his breath — O'Malley hardly 
caught the murmur of his words so low he 
murmured them : — 

'The simple life is lost for ever. It lies asleep in 
the Golden Age, and only those who sleep and dream 
can ever find it. If you would keep your joy, dream 
on, my friend ! Dream on, but dream alone ! ' 



1 



XLI 

Summer blazed everywhere and the sea lay like a 
blue pool of melted sky and sunshine. The summits 
of the Caucasus soon faded to the east and north, 
and to the south the wooded hills of the Black Sea 
coast accompanied the ship in a line of wavy blue 
that joined the water and the sky indistinguishably. 

The first-class passengers were few ; O'Malley 
hardly noticed their existence even. An American 
engineer, building a railway in Turkey, came on 
board at Trebizond ; there were one or two light 
women on their way home from Baku, and the 
attach^ of a foreign embassy from Teheran. But the 
Irishman felt more in touch with the hundred peasant- 
folk who joined the ship at Ineboli from the interior 
of Asia Minor and were bound as third-class 
emigrants for Marseilles and far America. Dark- 
skinned, wild-eyed, ragged, very dirty, they had 
never seen the sea before, and the sight of a porpoise 
held them spellbound. They lived on the after- 
deck, mostly cooking their own food, the women 
and children sleeping beneath a large tarpaulin that 
the sailors stretched for them across the width of 
deck. At night they played their pipes and danced, 
singing, shouting, and waving their arms — always the 
same tune over and over again. 

O'Malley watched them for hours together. He 
299 



300 THE CENTAUR xli 

also watched the engineer, the over-dressed women, 
the attache. He understood the difference between 
them as he had never understood it before. He 
understood the difficulty of his task as well. How 
in the world could he ever explain a single syllable 
of his message to these latter, or waken in them the 
faintest echo of desire to know and listen. The 
peasants, tnough all unconscious of the blinding 
glory at their elbows, stood far nearer to the truth. 

' Been further east, I suppose ^ ' the engineer 
observed, one afternoon as the steamer lay off 
Broussa, taking on a little extra cargo of walnut logs. 
He looked admiringly at the Irishman's bronzed 
skin. ' Take a better sun than this to put that 
on ! ' 

He laughed in his breezy, vigorous way, and the 
other laughed with him. Previous conversations 
had already paved the way to a traveller's friendship, 
and the American had taken to him. 

' Up in the mountains,' he replied, ' camping out 
and sleeping in the sun did it.* 

' The Caucasus ! Ah, I'd like to get up there 
myself a bit. I'm told they're a wonderful thing in 
the mountain line.' 

Scenery for him was evidently a commercial 
commodity, or it was nothing. It was the most 
up-to-date nation in the world that spoke — in the 
van of civilization — representing the last word in 
progress due to triumph over Nature. 

O'Malley said he had never seen anything like 
them. He described the trees, the flowers, the 
tribes, the scenery in general ; he dwelt upon the 
vast uncultivated spaces, the amazing fruitfulness of 
the soil, the gorgeous beauty above all. * I'd like to 



I 



xLi THE CENTAUR 301 

get the overcrowded cities of England and Europe 
spread all over it,' he said with enthusiasm. ' There's 
room for thousands there to lead a simple life close 
to Nature, in health and peace and happiness. Even 
your tired millionaires could escape their restless, 
feverish worries, lay down their weary burden of 
possessions, and enjoy the earth at last. The poor 
would cease to be with us ; life become true and 
beautiful again. . . .' He let it pour out of him, 
building the scaffolding of his dream before him in 
the air and filling it in with beauty. 

The American listened in patience, watching the 
walnut logs being towed through the water to the 
side of the ship. From time to time he spat on 
them, or into the sea. He let the beauty go com- 
pletely past him. 

' Great idea, that ! ' he interrupted at length. 
* You're interested, I see, in socialism and communistic 
schemes. There's money in them somewhere right 
enough, if a man only could hit the right note at the 
first go off. Take a bit of doing, though ! ' 

One of the women from Baku came up and 
leaned upon the rails a little beyond them. The 
sickly odour of artificial scent wafted down. The 
attach^ strolled along the deck and ogled her. 

' Get a few of that sort to draw the millionaires 
in, eh .? ' he added vulgarly. 

* Even those would come, yes,' said the Irishman 
softly, realizing for the first time within his memory 
that his gorge did not rise, ' for they too would 
change, grow clean and sweet and beautiful.' 

The engineer looked sharply into his face, un- 
certain whether he had not missed a clever witticism 
of his own kind. But O'Malley did not meet his 
glance. His eyes were far away upon the snowy 



302 THE CENTAUR xli 

summit of Olympus where a flock of fleecy clouds 
hung hovering like the hair of the eternal gods. 

' They say there's timber going to waste that you 
could get to the coast merely for the cost of drawing 
it — Caucasian walnut, too, to burn,' the other 
continued, getting on to safer ground, ' and labour's 
dirt cheap. There's every sort of mineral too God 
ever made. You could build light railways and run 
the show by electricity. And water-power for the 
asking. You'd have to get a Concession from 
Russia first though,' he added, spitting down upon a 
huge floating log in the clear sea underneath, ' and 
Russia's got palms that want a lot of greasing. I 
guess the natives, too, would take a bit of managing.' 

The woman beyond had shifted several feet nearer, 
and after a pause the Irishman found no words to 
fill, his companion turned to address a remark to her. 
O'Malley took the opening and moved away. 

' Here's my card, anyway,' the American added, 
handing him an over-printed bit of large pasteboard 
from a fat pocket-book that bore his name and 
address in silver on the outside. ' If you develop the 
scheme and want a bit of money, count me in.' 

He went to the other side of the vessel and 
watched the peasants on the lower deck. Their dirt 
seemed nothing by comparison. It was only on 
their clothes and bodies. The odour of this un- 
washed humanity was almost sweet and wholesome. 
It cleansed the sickly taint of that other scent from 
his palate ; it washed his mind of thoughts as well. 

He stood there long in dreaming silence, while 
the sunlight on Olympus turned from gold to rose, 
and the sea took on the colours of the fading sky. 
He watched a dark Kurd baby sliding down the 
tarpaulin. A kitten was playing with a loose end of 



1 



I 



xLi THE CENTAUR 303 

rope too heavy for it to move. Further off a huge 
fellow with bared chest and the hands of a colossus 
sat on a pile of canvas playing softly on his wooden 
pipes. The dark hair fell across his eyes, and a 
group of women listened idly while they busied 
themselves with the cooking of the evening meal. 
Immediately beneath him a splendid-eyed young 
woman crammed a baby to her naked breast. The 
kitten left the rope and played with the tassel of her 
scarlet shawl. 

And as he heard those pipes and watched the 
grave, untamed, strong faces of those wild peasant 
men and women, he understood that, low though they 
might be in scale of evolution, there was yet absent 
from them the touch of that deteriorating something 
which civihzation painted into those other counte- 
nances. But whether the word he sought was de- 
gradation or whether it was shame, he could not tell. 
In all they did, the way they moved, their dignity 
and independence, there was this something, he felt, 
that bordered on being impressive. Their wants 
were few, their worldly possessions in a bundle, yet 
they had this thing that set them in a place apart, 
if not above, these others : — beyond that simpering 
attache for all his worldly diplomacy, that engineer 
with brains and skill, those painted women with their 
clever playing upon the feelings and desires of their 
kind. There was this difference that set the ragged 
dirty crew in a proud and quiet atmosphere that made 
them seem almost distinguished by comparison, and 
certainly more desirable. Rough and untutored 
though they doubtless were, they still possessed 
unspoilt that deeper and more elemental nature that 
bound them closer to the Earth. It needed training, 
guidance, purifying ; yes ; but, in the last resort, was 



304 THE CENTAUR xli 

it not of greater spiritual significance and value than 
the mode of comparatively recently-developed reason 
by which Civilization had produced these other types ? 
He watched them long. The sun sank out of sight, 
the sea turned dark, ten thousand stars shone softly 
in the sky, and while the steamer swung about and 
made for peaked Andros and the coast of Greece, 
he still stood on in reverie and wonder. The 
wings of his great Dream stirred mightily . . . 
and he saw pale millions of men and women trooping 
through the gates of horn and ivory into that Garden 
where they should find peace and happiness in clean 
simplicity close to the Earth. . . . 




XLII 

There followed four days then of sea, Greece left 
behind, Messina and the Lipari Islands past, and the 
blue outline of Sardinia and Corsica began to keep 
pace with them as they neared the narrow straits of 
Bonifacio between them. The passengers came up 
to watch the rocky desolate shores slip by so close, 
and Captain Burgenfelder was on the bridge. 

Grey-headed rocks rose everywhere close about 
the ship ; overhead the seagulls cried and circled ; no 
vegetation was visible on either shore, no houses, no 
abode of man — nothing but the lighthouses, then 
miles of deserted rock dressed in those splendours of 
the sun's good-night. The dinner-gong had sounded 
but the sight was too magnificent to leave, for the 
setting sun floated on an emblazoned sea and stared 
straight against them in level glory down the narrow 
passage. Unimaginable colours painted sky and 
wave. The ruddy cliffs of bleak loneliness rose from 
a bed of flame. Soft airs fanned the cheeks with 
welcome coolness after the fierce heat of the day. 
There was a scent of wild honey in the air borne 
from the purple uplands far, far away. 

' I wonder, oh, I wonder, if they realized that a 
god is passing close . . . ! ' the Irishman murmured 
with a rising of the heart, ' and that here is a great 
mood of the Earth-Consciousness inviting them to 

305 X 



3o6 THE CENTAUR xlii 

peace ! Or do they merely see a yellow sun that dips 
beneath a violet sea . . . ? ' 

The washing of the water past the steamer's sides 
caught away the rest of the half-whispered words. He 
remembered that host of many thousand heads that 
bowed in silence while a god swept by. ... It was 
almost a shock to hear a voice replying close beside 
him : — 

' Come to my cabin when you're ready. My 
windows open to the west. We can be alone together. 
We can have there what food we need. You would 
prefer it perhaps ? ' 

He felt the touch of that sympathetic hand 
upon his shoulder, and bent his head to signify 
agreement. 

For a moment, face to face with that superb sun- 
set, he had known a deep and utter peace in the vast 
bosom of this greater soul about him. Her conscious- 
ness again had bruised and fringed his own. Across 
that delicately divided threshold the beauty and the 
power of the gods had poured in a flood into his 
being. And only there was peace, only there was 
joy, only there was the death of those ancient yearn- 
ings that tortured his little personal and separate 
existence. The return to the world was aching pain 
again. The old loneliness that seemed more than he 
could bear swept icily through him, contracting life 
and freezing every spring of joy. For in that single 
instant of return he felt pass into him a loneliness of 
the whole travailing world, the loneliness of countless 
centuries, the loneliness of all the races of the Earth 
who were exiled and had lost the way. 

Too deep it lay for words or tears or sighs. The 
doctor's invitation came most opportunely. And 
presently in silence he turned his back upon that 



I 



p 



xLii THE CENTAUR 307 

opal sky of dream from which the sun had gone, and 
walked slowly down the deck towards Stahl's cabin. 

' If only I can share it with them,' he thought as 
he went ; ' if only men will listen, if only they will 
come. To keep it all to myself, to dream alone, will 
kill me.' 

And as he stood before the door it seemed he 
heard, wild rushing through the sky, the tramping of 
a thousand hoofs, a roaring of the wind, the joy 
of that free, torrential passage with the Earth. He 
turned the handle and entered the cosy room where 
weeks before they held the inquest on the little empty 
tenement of flesh, remembering how that other figure 
had once stood where he now stood — part of the 
sunrise, part of the sea, part of the morning winds. 

They had their meal almost in silence, while the 
glow of sunset filled the cabin through the western 
row of port-holes, and when it was over Stahl made 
the coffee as of old and lit the familiar black cigar. 
Slowly O'Malley's pain and restlessness gave way 
before the other's soothing quiet. He had never 
known him before so calm and gentle, so sympathetic, 
almost tender. The usual sarcasm seemed veiled in 
sadness ; there was no irony in the voice, nor mockery 
in the eyes. 

Then to the Irishman it came suddenly that all 
these days while he had been lost in dreaming the 
doctor had kept him as of old under close observation. 
The completeness of his reverie had concealed from 
him this steady scrutiny. He had been oblivious to 
the fact that Stahl had all the time been watching, 
investigating, keenly examining. Abruptly he now 
realized it. 

And then Stahl spoke. His tone was winning, 



3o8 THE CENTAUR xlii 

his manner frank and inviting. But it was the sadness 
about him that won O'Malley's confidence so wholly. 

' I can guess,' he said, * something of the dream 
you've brought with you from those mountains. I 
can understand — more, perhaps, than you imagine, 
and I can sympathize — more than you think possible. 
Tell me about it fully — if you can. I see your heart 
is very full, and in the telling you will find relief, I 
am not hostile, as you sometimes feel. Tell me, my 
dear, young clear-eyed friend. Tell me your vision 
and your hope. Perhaps I might even help . . . 
for there may be things that I could also tell to you 
in return.' 

Something in the choice of words, none of which 
offended ; in the atmosphere and setting, no detail 
of which jarred ; and in the degree of balance between 
utterance and silence his world of inner forces just 
then knew, combined to make the invitation irresist- 
ible. Moreover, he had wanted to tell it all these 
days. Stahl was already half convinced. Stahl would 
surely understand and help him. It was the psycho- 
logical moment for confession. The two men rose 
in the same moment, Stahl to lock the cabin doors 
against interruption, O'Malley to set their chairs more 
closely side by side so that talking should be easiest. 

And then without demur or hesitation he opened 
his heart to this other and let the floodgates of his 
soul swing wide. He told the vision and he told the 
dream ; he told his hope as well. And the story of 
his passion, filled in with pages from those note-books 
he ever carried in his pocket, still lasted when the 
western glow had faded from the sky and the thick- 
sown stars shone down upon the gliding steamer. 
The hush of night lay soft upon the world before he 
finished. 



J 



xLii THE CENTAUR 309 

He told the thing complete, much, I imagine, as 
he told it all to me upon the roof of that apartment 
building and in the dingy Soho restaurant. He 
told it without reservations — his life-long yearnings : 
the explanation brought by the presence of the silent 
stranger upon the outward voyage : the journey to 
the Garden : the vision that all life — from gods to 
flowers, from men to mountains — lay contained in 
the conscious Being of the Earth, that Beauty was 
but glimpses of her essential nakedness ; and that 
salvation of the world's disease of modern life was to 
be found in a general return to the simplicity of 
Nature close against her mothering heart. He told 
it all — in words that his passionate joy chose fault- 
lessly. 

And Heinrich Stahl in silence listened. He asked 
no single question. He made no movement in 
his chair. His black cigar went out before the half 
of it was smoked. The darkness hid his face im- 
penetrably. 

And no one came to interrupt. The murmur of 
the speeding steamer, and occasional footsteps on the 
deck as passengers passed to and fro in the cool of 
the night, were the only sounds that broke the music 
of that incurable idealist's impassioned story. 



XLIII 

And then at length there came a change of voice 
across the cabin. The Irishman had finished. He 
sank back in the deep leather chair, exhausted 
physically, but with the exultation of his mighty 
hope still pouring at full strength through his heart. 
For he had ventured further than ever before and 
had spoken of a possible crusade — a crusade that 
should preach peace and happiness to every living 
creature. 

And Dr. Stahl, in a voice that showed how deeply 
he was moved, asked quietly : — 

' By leading the nations back to Nature you think 
they shall advance to Truth at last ? ' 

' With time,' was the reply. ' The first step lies 
there : — in changing the direction of the world's 
activities, changing it from the transient Outer to the 
eternal Inner. In the simple life, external possessions 
unnecessary and recognized as vain, the soul would 
turn within and seek Reality. Only a tiny section 
of humanity has time to do it now. There is no 
leisure. Civilization means acquirement for the 
body : it ought to mean development for the soul. 
Once sweep aside the trash and rubbish men seek 
outside themselves to-day, and the wings of their 
smothered souls would stir again. Consciousness 
would expand. Nature would draw them first. 

310 




xLiii THE CENTAUR 311 

They would come to feel the Earth as I did. Self 
would disappear, and with it this false sense of separ- 
ateness. The greater consciousness would waken in 
them. The peace and joy and blessedness of inner 
growth would fill their lives. But, first, this childish 
battling to the death for external things must cease, 
and Civilization stand revealed for the bleak and 
empty desolate thing it really is. It leads away from 
God and from the things that are eternal.' 

The German made no answer ; O'Malley ceased 
to speak ; a long silence fell between them. Then, 
presently, Stahl relighted his cigar, and lapsing into 
his native tongue — always a sign with him of deepest 
seriousness — he began to talk. 

' YouVe honoured me,' he said, ' with a great con- 
fidence ; and I am deeply, deeply grateful. You 
have told your inmost dream — the thing men find 
it hardest of all to speak about.* He felt in the 
darkness for his companion's hand and held it tightly 
for a moment. He made no other comment upon what 
he had heard. ' And in return — in some small way 
of return,' he continued, ' I may ask you to listen to 
something of my own, something of possible interest. 
No one has ever known it from my lips. Only, in 
our earlier conversations on the outward voyage, I 
hinted at it once or twice. I sometimes warned 
you ' 

' I remember. You said he'd " get " me, " win " 
me over — " appropriation " was the word you used.' 

' I suggested caution, yes ; urged you not to let 
yourself go too completely ; told you he represented 
danger to yourself, and to humanity as it is organized 
to-day ' 

*And all the rest,' put in O'Malley a shade 
impatiently. ' I remember perfectly.' 



312 THE CENTAUR xliii 

* Because I knew what I was talking about.' 
The doctor's voice came across the darkness some- 
what ominously. And then he added in a louder 
tone, evidently sitting forward as he said it : ' For 
the thing that has happened to yourself as I foresaw 
it would, had already almost happened to me too ! ' 

' To you, doctor, too ? ' exclaimed the Irishman 
in the moment's pause that followed. 

' I saved myself just in time — by getting rid of 
the cause.' 

' You discharged him from the hospital, because 
you were afraid ! ' He said it sharply as though an 
instant of the old resentment had flashed up. 

By way of answer Stahl rose from his chair and 
abruptly turned up the electric lamp upon the desk 
that faced them across the cabin. Evidently he pre- 
ferred the light. O'Malley saw that his face was 
white and very grave. He grasped for the first time 
that the man was speaking professionally. The truth 
came driving next behind it — that Stahl regarded 
him as a patient. 

' Please go on, doctor,' he said, keenly on the 
watch. ' I'm deeply interested.' The wings of his 
great dream still bore him too far aloft for him to 
feel more than the merest passing annoyance at his 
discovery. Resentment had gone too. Sadness and 
disappointment for an instant touched him perhaps, 
but momentarily. In the end he felt sure that Stahl 
would stand at his side, completely won over and 
convinced. 

* You had a similar experience to my own, you 
say,' he urged him. ' 1 am all eagerness and sym- 
pathy to hear.' 

' We'll talk in the open air,' the doctor answered, 



I 



xLiii . THE CENTAUR 313 

and ringing the bell for the steward to clear away, 
he drew his companion out to the deserted decks. 
They moved towards the bows, past the sleeping 
peasants. The stars were mirrored in a glassy sea 
and towards the north the hills of Corsica stood 
faintly outlined in the sky. It was already long 
after midnight. 

' Yes, a similar thing nearly happened to me,' he 
resumed as they settled themselves against a coil of 
rope where only the murmur of the washing sea 
could reach them, *and might have happened to 
others too. Inmates of that big Krankenhaus 
were variously affected. My action, tardy I must 
admit, saved myself and them.' 

And the German then told his story as a man 
might tell of his escape from some grave disaster. In 
the emphatic sentences of his native language he told 
it, congratulating himself all through. The Russian 
had almost won him over, gained possession of his 
heart and mind, persuaded him, but in the end had 
failed — because the other ran away. It was like 
hearing a man describe an attempt to draw him into 
Heaven, then boast of his escape. His caution and 
his judgment, as he put it, saved him, but to the 
listening Celt it rather seemed that his compromise it 
was that damned him. The Kingdom of Heaven is 
hard to enter, for Stahl had possessions not of the 
wood and metal order, but possessions of the brain 
and reason he was too proud to forego completely. 
They kept him out. 

With increasing sadness, too, he heard it ; for 
here he realized was the mental attitude of an 
educated, highly civilized man to-day — a representa- 
tive type regarded by the world as highest. It was 
this he had to face. Moreover Stahl was more than 



314 THE CENTAUR xliii 

merely educated, he was understandingly sympathetic, 
meeting the great dream halfway ; seeing in it possi- 
bilities ; admitting its high beauty, and even some- 
times speaking of it with hope and a touch of 
enthusiasm. Its originator none the less he regarded 
as a reactionary dreamer, an unsettling and disordered 
influence, a patient, if not even something worse ! 

Stahl's voice and manner were singular while he 
told it all, revealing one moment the critical mind 
that analysed and judged, and the next an enthusiasm 
almost of the mystic. Alternately, like the man and 
woman of those quaint old weather-glasses, each 
peered out and showed a face, the reins of compro- 
mise yet ever seeking to hold them well in leash and 
drive them together. 

Hardly, it seems, had the strange Russian been 
under his care a week before he passed beneath the 
sway of his curious personality and experienced the 
attack of singular emotions upon his heart and mind. 

He described at first the man's arrival, telling it 
with the calm and balanced phrases a doctor uses 
when speaking merely of a patient who had stirred 
his interest. He first detailed the method of sugges- 
tion he had used to revive the lapsed memory — and 
its utter failure. Then he passed on to speak of him 
more generally : but briefly and condensed. 

' The man,' he said, ' was so engaging, so docile, 
his personality altogether so attractive and mysteri- 
ous, that I took the case myself instead of delegating 
it to my assistants. All efforts to trace his past 
collapsed. It was as if he had drifted into that little 
hotel out of the night of time. Of madness there 
was no evidence whatever. The association of ideas 
in his mind, though limited, was logical and rigid. 
His health was perfect, barring strange, sudden fever ; 



i 



I 



xLiii THE CENTAUR 315 

his vitality tremendous ; yet he ate most sparingly 
and the only food he touched was fruit and milk 
and vegetables. Meat made him sick, the huge 
frame shuddered when he saw it. And from all the 
human beings in the place with whom he came in 
contact he shrank with a kind of puzzled dismay. 
With animals, most oddly it seemed, he sought 
companionship ; he would run to the window if a 
dog barked, or to hear a horse's hoofs ; a Persian cat 
belonging to one of the nurses never left his side, and 
I have seen the trees in the yard outside his window 
thick with birds, and even found them in the room 
and on the sill, flitting about his very person, 
unafraid and singing. 

' With me, as with the attendants, his speech was 
almost nil — laconic words in various languages, 
clipped phrases that sometimes combined Russian, 
French, or German, other tongues as well. 

' But, strangest of all, with animal life he seemed 
to hold this kind of communication that was in- 
telligible both to himself and them. Animals cer- 
tainly were "aware" of him. It was not speech. It 
ran in a deep, continuous murmur like a droning, 
humming sound of wind. I took the hint thus 
faintly offered. I gave him his freedom in the yards 
and gardens. The open air and intercourse with 
natural life was what he craved. The sadness and 
the air of puzzled fretting then left his face, his eyes 
grew bright, his whole presentment happier ; he ran 
and laughed and even sang. The fever that had 
troubled him all vanished. Often myself I took the 
place of nurse or orderly to watch him, for the man's 
presence more than interested me: it gave me a 
renewed sense of life that was exhilarating, invigor- 
ating, delightful. And in his appearance, meanwhile, 



3i6 THE CENTAUR xliii 

something that was not size or physical measurement 
turned — tremendous. 

' A part of me that was not mind — a sort of for- 
gotten instinct blindly groping — came of its own 
accord to regard him as some loose fragment of a 
natural, cosmic life that had somehow blundered 
down into a human organism it sought to use. . . . 

' And then it was for the first time I recognized 
the spell he had cast upon me ; for, when the Com- 
mittee decided there was no reason to keep him 
longer, I urged that he should stay. Making a 
special plea, I took him as a private patient of my 
own. I kept him under closer personal observation 
than ever before. I needed him. Something deep 
within me, something undivined hitherto, called out 
into life by his presence, could not do without him. 
This new craving, breakingly wild and sweet, awoke 
in my blood and cried for him. His presence 
nourished it in me. Most insidiously it attacked 
me. It stirred deep down among the roots of my 
being. It " threatened my personality " seems the 
best way I can put it ; for, turning a critical analysis 
upon it, I discovered that it was an undermining and 
revolutionary change going steadily forward in my 
character. Its growth had hitherto been secret. 
When I first recognized its presence, the thing was 
already strong. For a long time, it had been 
building. 

' And the change in a word — you will grasp my 
meaning from the shortest description of essentials 
— was this : that ambition left me, ordinary desire 
crumbled, the outer world men value so began to 
fade.' 

' And in their place .? ' cried O'Malley breath- 
lessly, interrupting for the first time. 




xLiir THE CENTAUR 317 

' Came a rushing, passionate desire to escape from 
cities and live for beauty and simplicity " in the 
wilderness " ; to taste the life he seemed to know ; 
to go out blindly with him into woods and desolate 
places, and be mixed and blended with the loveliness 
of Earth and Nature. This was the first thing I 
knew. It was like an expansion of my normal 
world — almost an extension of consciousness. It 
somehow threatened my sense of personal identity. 
And — it made me hesitate.' 

O'Malley caught the tremor in his voice. Even 
in the telling of it the passion plucked at him, for 
here, as ever, he stood on the border-line of com- 
promise, his heart tempting him towards salvation, 
his brain and reason tugging at the brakes. 

' The sham and emptiness of modern life, its drab 
vulgarity, the unworthiness of its very ideals stood 
appallingly revealed before some inner eye just open- 
ing. I felt shaken to the core of what had seemed 
hitherto my very solid and estimable self. How the 
man thus so powerfully affected me lies beyond all 
intelligible explanation. To use the obvious catch- 
word " hypnotism " is to use a toy and stop a leak 
with paper. For his influence was unconsciously 
exerted. He cast no net of clever, persuasive words 
about my thought. Out of that deep, strange silence 
of the man it somehow came. His actions and his 
simple happiness of face and manner — both in some 
sense the raw material of speech perhaps — may have 
operated as potently suggestive agents ; but no 
adequate causes to justify the result, apart from the 
fantastic theories I have mentioned, have ever yet 
come within the range of my understanding. I can 
only give you the undeniable effects.' 

* Your sense of extended consciousness,* asked 



31 8 THE CENTAUR xliii 

his listener, ' was this continuous, once it had 
begun ? * 

' It came in patches,' Stahl continued. * My 
normal, everyday self was thus able to check it. 
While it derided, commiserated this everyday self, 
the latter stood in dread of it and even awe. My 
training, you see, regarded it as symptom of dis- 
order, a beginning of unbalance that might end in 
insanity, the thin wedge of a dissociation of the 
personality Morton Prince and others have described.' 

His speech grew more and more jerky, even 
incoherent, evidently the material had not even now 
been fully reduced to order in his mind. 

'Among other curious symptoms I soon estab- 
lished that this subtle spreading of my consciousness 
grew upon me especially during sleep. The business 
of the day distracted, scattered it. On waking in the 
morning, as with the physical fatigue that comes 
towards the closing of the day, it was strongest. 

' And so, in order to examine it closely when in 
fullest manifestation, I came to spend the nights 
with him. I would creep in while he slept and stay 
till morning, alternately sleeping and waking myself. 
I watched the two of us together. I also watched 
the " two " in me. And thus it was I made the 
further strange discovery that the influence he exerted 
on me was strongest while he slept. It is best 
described by saying that in his sleep I was conscious 
that he sought to draw me with him — away some- 
where into his own wonderful world — the state or 
region, that is, where he manifested completely instead 
of partially as I knew him here. His personality 
was a channel somewhere out into a living, conscious 
Nature. . . .' 

'Only,' interrupted O'Malley, 'you felt that to 



xLiii THE CENTAUR 319 

yield and go involved some nameless inner catastrophe, 
and so resisted ? ' He chose his phrase with purpose. 
' Because I discovered/ vi^as the pregnant answer, 
given steadily while he watched his listener closely 
through the darkness, ' that this desire for escape the 
man had wakened in me was nothing more or less 
than the desire to leave the world, to leave the condi- 
tions that prevented — in fact to leave the body. My 
discontent with modern life had gone as far as that. 
It was the birth of the suicidal mania.' 

The pause that followed the words, on the part of 
Dr. Stahl at any rate, was intentional. O'Malley 
held his peace. The men shifted their places on the 
coil of rope, for both were cramped and stiff with the 
lengthy session. For a minute or two they leaned 
over the bulwarks and watched the phosphorescent 
foam in silence. The blue mountainous shores slipped 
past in shadowy line against the stars. But when 
they sat down again their relative positions were not 
what they had been before. Dr. Stahl had placed 
himself between his listener and the sea. And 
O'Malley did not let the manoeuvre escape him. 
Smiling to himself he noticed it. Just as surely he 
noticed, too, that the whole recital was being told 
him with a purpose. 

' You really need not be afraid,' he could not 
resist saying. ' The idea of escape that way has 
never even come to me at all. And, anyhow, I've 
far too much on hand first in telling the world my 
message.' He laughed in the silence that took his 
words, for Stahl said nothing and made as though he 
had not heard. But the Irishman understood that it 
was in the spirit of feeble compromise that danger 
lay — if danger there was at all, and he himself was far 



320 THE CENTAUR xliii 

beyond such weakness. His eye was single and his 
body full of light, and the faith that plays with 
mountains had made him whole. Return to Nature 
for him involved no denial of human life, nor 
depreciation of human interests, but only a revolu- 
tionary shifting of values. 

' And it was one night while he slept and I 
watched him in the little room,' resumed the German 
as though there had been no interruption, ' I noticed 
first so decisively this growing of a singular size about 
him 1 have already mentioned, and grasped its 
meaning. For the bulk of the man while growing 
— emerging, rather, I should say — assumed another 
shape than his own. It was not my eyes that saw 
it. I saw him as he felt himself to be. The creature's 
personality, his essential inner being, was acting 
directly upon my own. His influence was at me from 
another point or angle. First the emotions, then 
the senses you sec. It was a finely organized attack. 

' I definitely understood at last that my mind was 
affected — and proved it too, for the instant effort I 
made at recovery resulted in my seeing him normal 
again. The size and shape retreated the moment I 
denied them.' 

O'Malley noticed how the speaker's voice lingered 
over the phrase. Again he knew the intention of the 
pause that followed. He held his peace, however, 
and waited. 

' Nor was sight the only sense affected,' Stahl 
continued, * for smell and hearing also brought their 
testimony. Through all but touch, indeed, the 
hallucination attacked me. For sometimes at night 
while I sat up watching in the little room, there 
rose outside the open window in the yards and 
gardens a sound of tramping, a distant roaring as of 



xLiii THE CENTAUR 321 

voices in a rising wind, a rushing, hollow murmur, 
confused and deep like that of forests, or the swift 
passage of a host of big birds across the sky. I 
heard it, both in the air and on the ground — this 
tramping on the lawns, this curious shaking of the 
atmosphere. And with it at the same time a 
sharp and mingled perfume that made me think of 
earth and leaves, of flowers after rain, of plains and 
open spaces, most singular of all — of animals and 
horses. 

' Before the firm denial of my mind, they vanished, 
just as the change of form had vanished. But both 
left me weaker than they found me, more tender to 
attack. Moreover, I understood most plainly, that 
they emanated all from him. These *' emanations " 
came, too, chiefly, as I mentioned, whilst he slept. 
In sleep, it seemed, he set them free. The slumber 
of the body disengaged them. And then the instinct 
came to warn me — presenting itself with the authority 
of an unanswerable intuition — the realization, namely, 
that if, for a single moment in his presence, I slept 
the changes would leap forward in my own being, 
and I should join him.' 

' Escape ! Know freedom in a larger conscious- 
ness ! ' cried the other. 

' And for a man of my point of view and training 
to have permitted such a conviction at all,' he went 
on, the interruption utterly ignored again, * proves 
how far along the road I had already travelled 
without knowing it. Only at the time I was not 
aware of this. It was the shock of full discovery 
later that brought me to my senses, when, seeking 
to withdraw, — I found I could not.' 

' And so you ran away.' It came out bluntly 
enough, with a touch of scorn but ill concealed. 

Y 



322 THE CENTAUR xliii 

*We discharged him. But before that came 
there was more I have to tell you — if you still care 
to hear it.' , 

' I'm not tired, if that's what you mean. I could 
listen all night, as far as that goes.' 

He rose to stretch his legs a moment, and Stahl 
rose too — instantly. Together they leaned over the 
bulwarks. The German's hat was off and the air 
made by the steamer's passage drew his beard out. 
The warm soft wind brought odours of sea and 
shore. It caressed their faces, then passed on across 
those sleeping peasants on the lower deck. The 
masts and rigging swung steadily against the host 
of stars. 

' Before I thus knew myself half caught,' continued 
the doctor, standing now close enough beside him 
for actual contact, ' and found it difficult to get away, 
other things had happened, things that confirmed the 
change so singularly begun in me. They happened 
everywhere ; confirmation came from many quarters ; 
though slight enough, they filled in all the gaps and 
crevices, strengthened the joints, and built the huge 
illusion round me all complete until it held me like 
a prison. 

* And they are difficult to tell. Only, indeed, to 
yourself who underwent a similar experience up there 
in the mountains, could they bring much meaning. 
You had the same temptation and you — weathered 
the same storm.' He caught O'Malley's arm a 
moment and held it. ' You escaped this madness 
just as I did, and you will realize what I mean when 
I say that the sensation of losing my sense of per- 
sonal identity became so dangerously, so seductively 
strong. The feeling of extended consciousness became 
delicious — too delicious to resist. A kind of pagan 



I 



xLiii THE CENTAUR 323 

joy and exultation known to some in early youth, 
but put away with the things of youth, possessed 
me. In the presence of this other's soul, so strangely 
powerful in its silence and simplicity, I felt as though 
I touched new sources of life. I tapped them. 
They poured down and flooded me — with dreams 
— dreams that could really haunt — with unsettling 
thoughts of glory and delight beyond the body. I 
got clean away into Nature. I felt as though some 
portion of me just awakening reached out across him 
into rain and sunshine, far up into the sweet and 
starry sky — as a tree growing out of a thicket that 
chokes its lower part finds light and freedom at 
the top.' 

' It caught you badly, doctor,' O'Malley mur- 
mured. ' The gods came close ! ' 

'So badly that I loathed the prisoned darkness 
that held me so thickly in the body. I longed to 
know my being all dispersed through Nature, 
scattered with dew and wind, shining with the star- 
light and the sun. And the manner of escape I 
hinted to you a little while ago came to seem right 
and necessary. Lawful it seemed, and obvious. 
The mania literally obsessed me, though still I tried 
to hide it even from myself , . . and struggled in 
resistance.' 

' You spoke just now of other things that came to 
confirm it,' the Irishman said while the other paused 
to take breath. All this he knew. He grew weary 
of Stahl's clever labouring the point that it was 
madness. A little knowledge is ever dangerous, and 
he saw so clearly why the hesitation of the merely 
intellectual man had led him into error. ' Did you 
mean that others acknowledged this influence as well 
as yourself .'' ' 



324 THE CENTAUR xliii 

' You shall read that for yourself to-morrow,' 
came the answer, * in the detailed report I drew up 
afterwards ; it is far too long to tell you now. But, 
I may mention something of it. That breaking out 
of patients was a curious thing, their trying to escape, 
their dreams and singing, their efforts sometimes to 
approach his room, their longing for the open and 
the gardens ; the deep, prolonged entrancing of a 
few ; the sounds of rushing, tramping that they, too, 
heard, the violence of some, the silent ecstasy of 
others. The thing may find its parallel, perhaps, in 
the collective mania that sometimes afflicts religious 
communities, in monasteries or convents. Only here 
there was no preacher and eloquent leader to induce 
hysteria — nothing but that silent dynamo of power, 
gentle and winning as a little child, a being who could 
not put a phrase together, exerting his potent spell 
unconsciously, and chiefly while he slept.' 

' For the phenomena almost without exception 
came in the night, and often at their fullest 
strength, as afterwards reported to me, while I 
dozed in his room and watched beside his motionless 
and slumbering form. Oh, and there was more as 
well, much more, as you shall read. The stories 
my assistants brought me, the tales of frightened 
nurse and warder, the amazing yarns the porter 
stammered out, of strangers who had rung the bell 
at dawn, trying to push past him through the door, 
saying they were messengers and had been summoned, 
sent for, had to come, — large, curious, windy figures, 
or, as he sometimes called them with unconscious 
humour, * like creatures out of fairy books or 
circuses' that always vanished as suddenly as they 
came. Making every allowance for excitement and 
exaggeration, the tales were strange enough, I can 



xLiii THE CENTAUR 325 

assure you, and the way many of the patients knew 
their visions intensified, their illusions doubly 
strengthened, their efforts even to destroy them- 
selves in many cases almost more than the staff 
could deal with — all this brought the matter to a 
climax and made my duty very plain at last.' 

' And the effect upon yourself — at its worst ? ' 
asked his listener quietly. 

Stahl sighed wearily a little as he answered with a 
new-found sadness in his tone. 

' I've told you briefly that,' he said ; * repetition 
cannot strengthen it. The worthlessness of the 
majority of human aims to-day expresses it best — 
what you have called yourself the " horror of 
civilization." The vanity of all life's modern, so- 
called up-to-date tendencies for outer, mechanical 
developments. A wild, mad beauty streaming from 
that man's personality over-ran the whole place and 
caught the lot of us, myself especially, with a lust 
for simple, natural things, and with a passion for 
spiritual beauty to accompany them. Fame, wealth, 
position seemed the shadows then, and something 
else it's hard to name announced itself as the 
substance. ... I wanted to clear out and live with 
Nature, to know simplicity, unselfish purposes, a 
golden state of childlike existence close to dawns 
and dew and running water, cared for by woods and 
blessed by all the winds. . . .' He paused again for 
breath, then added : — 

* And that's just where the mania caught at me so 
cunningly — till I saw it and called a halt.' 

'Ah!' 

' For the thing I sought, the thing he knew, and 
perhaps remembered, was not possible in the body. 
It was a spiritual state ' 



326 THE CENTAUR xliii 

' Or to be known subjectively ! ' O'Malley 
checked him. 

' I am no lotos-eater by nature,' he went on with 
energy, *and so I fought and conquered it. But 
first, I tell you, it came upon me like a tempest — a 
hurricane of wonder and delight. I've always held, 
like yourself perhaps, that civilization brings its own 
army of diseases, and that the few illnesses known to 
ruder savage races can be cured by simple means 
the earth herself supplies. And along this line of 
thought the thing swept into me — the line of my 
own head- learning. This was natural enough ; 
natural enough, too, that it thus at first deceived me. 

* For the quack cures of history come to this — 
herb simples and the rest ; only we know them now 
as sun-cure, water-cure, open-air cure, old Kneipp, 
sea-water, and a hundred others. Doctors have 
never swarmed before as they do now, and these 
artificial diseases civilization brings in such quantity 
seemed all at once to mean the abeyance of some 
central life or power men ought to share with — 
Nature. . . . You shall read it all in my written 
report. I merely wish to show you now how the 
insidious thing got at me along the line of my 
special knowledge. I saw the truth that priests and 
doctors are the only possible and necessary " pro- 
fessions " in the world, and — that they should be 
really but a single profession. . . .' 




XLIV 

He drew suddenly back with a kind of jerk. It 
was as though he realized abruptly that he had said 
too much — had overdone it. He took his companion 
by the arm and led him down the decks. 

As they passed the bridge the Captain called out 
a word of welcome to them ; and his jolly, boisterous 
laugh ran down the wind. The American engineer 
came from behind a dark corner, almost running 
into them ; his face was flushed. ' It's like a 
furnace below,' he said in his nasal familiar manner ; 
' too hot to sleep. I've run up for a gulp of air.' 
He made as though he would join them. 

' The wind's behind us, yes,' replied the doctor in a 
different tone, ' and there's no draught.' With a 
gesture, half bow, half dismissal, he made even this 
thick-skinned member of ' the greatest civilization on 
earth ' understand he was not wanted. And they 
turned at the cabin door, O'Malley a moment 
wondering at the admirable dignity with which the 
' little ' man had managed the polite dismissal. 

Himself, perhaps, he would not have minded the 
diversion. He was a little weary of the German's 
long recital. The confession had not been complete, 
he felt. Much had been held back. It was not 
altogether straightforward. The dishonesty which 
hides in compromise peeped through it everywhere. 

327 



328 THE CENTAUR xliv 

And the incoherence of the latter part had almost 
bored him. For it was, he easily divined, a studied 
incoherence. It was meant to touch a similar 
weakness in himself — if there. But it was not there. 
He saw through the whole manoeuvre. Stahl 
wished to warn and save him by showing that the 
experience they had partly shared was nothing but a 
strange mental disorder. He wished to force in this 
subtle way his own interpretation of it upon his 
friend. Yet at the same time the intuitive Irishman 
discerned that other tendency in the man which 
would so gladly perhaps have welcomed a different 
explanation, and even in some fashion did actually 
accept it. 

O'Malley smiled inwardly as he watched him 
prepare the coffee as of old. And patiently he 
waited for the rest that was to come. In a certain 
sense it all was useful. It would be helpful later. 
This was an attitude he would often have to face 
when he returned to civilized life and tried to tell 
his Message to. the thinking, educated men of to-day 
— the men he must win over somehow to his dream 
— the men, without whose backing, no Movement 
could hope to meet with even a measure of success. 

' So, like myself,' said Stahl, as he carefully tended 
the flame of the spirit-lamp between them, ' you 
have escaped by the skin of your teeth, as it were. 
And I congratulate you — heartily.' 

' I thank you,' said the other drily. 

' You write your version now, and I'll write 
mine — indeed it is already almost finished — then 
we'll compare notes. Perhaps we might even 
publish them together.' 

He poured out the fragrant coffee. They faced 
each other across the little table. But O'Malley did 



xLiv THE CENTAUR 329 

not take the bait. He wished to hear the balance 
his companion stiJl might tell. 

And presently he asked for it. 

' With the discharge of your patient the trouble 
ceased at once, then .'' ' 

* Comparatively soon. It gradually subsided, yes.' 

* And as regards yourself .f* ' 

' I came back to my senses. 1 recovered my 
control. The insubordinate impulses I had known 
retired.' He smiled as he sipped his coffee. ' You 
see me now,' he added, looking his companion 
steadily in the eyes, * a sane and commonplace ship's 
doctor.' 

' I congratulate you — ' 

' Viel Dank.' He bowed. 

' On what you missed, yet almost accomplished,' 
the other finished. * You might have known, like 
me, the cosmic consciousness ! You might have met 
the gods ! ' 

' In a strait-waistcoat,' the doctor added with a 
snap. 

They laughed at one another across their coffee 
cups as once before they had laughed across their 
glasses of Kakhetian wine — two eternally antagonistic 
types that will exist as long as life itself. 

But, contrary to his expectations, the German 
had little more to tell. He mentioned how the 
experience had led his mind into strange and novel 
reading in his desire to know what other minds 
might have to offer by way of explanation, even the 
most fanciful and far-fetched. He told, though 
very briefly, how he had picked up Fechner among 
others, and carefully studied his * poetic theories,' 
and read besides the best accounts of * spiritistic ' 
phenomena, as also of the rarer states of hysteria. 



330 THE CENTAUR xliv 

double-consciousness, multiple personality, and even 
those looser theories which suggest that a portion of 
the human constitution called ' astral ' or ' etheric ' 
may escape from the parent centre and, carrying 
with it the subtler forces of desire and yearning, 
construct a vivid subjective state of mind which is 
practically its Heaven of hope and longing all ful- 
filled. 

He did not, however, betray the results upon 
himself of all this curious reading and study, nor 
mention what he found of truth or probability in it 
all. He merely quoted books and authors, in at 
least three languages, that stretched in a singular and 
catholic array from Plato and the Neo-Platonists 
across the ages to Myers, Du Prel, Flournoy, Lodge, 
and Morton Prince. 

Out of the lot, perhaps, — O'Malley gathered it 
by inference rather than from actual statement, from 
fragments of their talks upon the outward voyage 
more than from anything let fall just then — Fechner 
had proved the most persuasive to this man's contra- 
dictory and original mind. It certainly seemed, at 
least, as if he knew some secret sympathetic leaning 
towards the idea that consciousness and matter were 
inseparable, and that a Cosmic Consciousness ' of 
sorts ' might pertain to the Earth as, equally, to all 
the other stars and planets. The Urwelt idea, he 
so often referred to, had seized a part of his imagina- 
tion — that, at least, was clear. 

The Irishman drank it all in, but he was too 
exhausted now to argue, and too full besides to ask 
questions. His natural volubility forsook him. He 
let the doctor have his say without interruptions. 
He took the warnings with the rest of it. Nothing 
the other said had changed him. 




xLiv THE CENTAUR 331 

It was not the first sunrise they had watched 
together, and as they took the morning air on deck 
once more, Corsica rising like a dream the night had 
left behind her on the sea, he listened with fainter 
interest to the German's concluding sentences. 

* At any rate you now understand why on that 
other voyage I was so eager to watch you with your 
friend, so keen to separate you, to prevent your 
sleeping with him, and at the same time so desirous 
to see his influence upon you at close quarters ; and 
also — why I always understood so well what was 
going on both outwardly and within.' 

O'MaUey quietly reiterated the belief he still held 
in the power of his own dream. 

* I shall go home and give my message to the 
world,' was what he said quietly. * I think it's true.' 

' It's better to keep silent,' was the answer, ' for, 
even if true, the world is not ready yet to listen. It 
will evaporate, you'll find, in the telling. You'll find 
there's nothing to tell. Besides, a dream like yours 
must dawn on all at once, and not on merely one. 
No one will understand you.' 

' I can but try.' 

* You will reach no men of action ; and few of 
intellect. You will merely stuff the dreamers who 
are already stuffed enough. What is the use, I ask 
you } What is the use } ' 

' It will set the world on fire for simplicity,' the 
other murmured, knowing the great sweet passion 
flame within him as he watched the sun come slowly 
out of the rosy sea. ' All the use in the world.' 

* None,' was the laconic answer. 

' They might know the gods ! ' cried O'Malley, 
using the phrase that symbolized for him the entire 
Vision. 



332 THE CENTAUR xliv 

Stahl looked at him for some time before he spoke. 
Again that expression of wistful, almost longing 
admiration shone in the brown eyes. 

* My friend,' he answered gravely, * men do not 
want to know the gods. They prefer their delights 
less subtle. They crave the cruder physical sensations 
that bang them towards excitement ' 

' Of disease, of pain, of separateness,' put in the 
other. 

The German shrugged his shoulders. ' It's the 
stage they're at,' he said. ' You, if you have success, 
will merely make a few uncomfortable. The majority 
will hardly turn their heads. To one in a million 
you may bring peace and happiness.' 

' It's worth it,' cried the Irishman, ' even for that 
one ! ' 

Stahl answered very gently, smiling with his new 
expression of tenderness and sympathy. * Dream 
your great dream if you will, but dream it, my 
friend, alone — in peace and silence. That " one " I 
speak of is yourself.' 

The doctor pressed his hand and turned towards 
his cabin. O'Malley stood a little longer to share 
the sunrise. Neither spoke another word. He 
heard the door shut softly behind him. The 
unspoken answer in his mind was in two words 
— two common little adjectives : ' Coward and 
selfish ! ' 

But Stahl, once in the privacy of his cabin, 
judging by the glance visible on his face ere he closed 
the door, may probably have known a very different 
thought. And possibly he uttered it below his 
breath. A sigh most certainly escaped his lips, a sigh 
half sadness, half relief. For O'Malley remembered 
it afterwards. 



I 



xLiv THE CENTAUR 333 

* Beautiful, foolish dreamer among men ! But, 
thank God, harmless — to others and — himself.' 

And soon afterwards O'Malley also went to his 
cabin. Before sleep took him he lay deep in a mood 
of sadness — almost as though he had heard his friend's 
unspoken thought. He realized the insuperable 
difficulties that lay before him. The world would 
think him * mad but harmless.' 

Then, with full sleep, he slipped across that 
sunrise and found the old-world Garden. He held 
the eternal password. 

' I can but try . . . ! ' 



XLV 

And here the crowded, muddled note-books come 
to an end. The rest was action — and inevitable 
disaster. 

The brief history of O'Malley's mad cam- 
paign may be imagined. To a writer who found 
interest in the study of forlorn hopes and their 
leaders, a detailed record of this particular one 
might seem worth while. For me personally it is 
too sad and too pathetic. I cannot bring myself to 
tell, much less to analyse the story of a broken heart, 
when that heart and story are those of a close and 
deeply admired intimate, a man who gave me 
genuine love and held my own. 

Besides, although a curious chapter in uncommon 
human nature, it is not by any means a new one. 
It is the true story of many a poet and dreamer 
since the world began, though perhaps not often 
told nor even guessed. And only the poets them- 
selves, especially the little poets who cannot utter 
half the fire that consumes them, may know the 
searing pain and passion and the true inwardness of 
it all. 

Most of those months it chanced I was away, and 
only fi-agments of the foolish enterprise could reach 
me. But nothing, I think, could have stopped him, 
nor any worldly selfish wisdom made him even 

334 



I 



xLv THE CENTAUR 23S 

pause. The thing possessed him utterly ; it had to 
flame its way out as best it could. To high and 
low, he preached by every means in his power the 
Simple Life ; he preached the mystical life as well — 
that the true knowledge and the true progress are 
within, that they both pertain to the inner being and 
have no chief concern with external things. He 
preached it wildly, lopsidedly, in or out of season, 
knowing no half measures. His enthusiasm obscured 
his sense of proportion and the extravagance hid the 
germ of truth that undeniably lay in his message. 

To put the movement on its feet at first he 
realized every possession that he had. It left him 
penniless, if he was not almost so already, and in the 
end it left him smothered beneath the glory of his 
blinding and unutterable Dream. He never under- 
stood that suggestion is more effective than a 
sledge-hammer. His faith was no mere little seed of 
mustard, but a full-fledged forest singing its message 
in a wind of thunder. He shouted it aloud to the 
world. 

I think the acid disappointment that lies beneath 
that trite old phrase ' a broken heart ' was never 
really his ; for indeed it seemed that his cruel, 
ludicrous failure merely served to strengthen hope 
and purpose by making him seek for a better 
method of imparting what he had to say. In the 
end he learned the bitter lesson to the full. But 
faith never trailed a single feather. Those jeering 
audiences in the Park ; those empty benches in many 
a public hall, those brief, ignoring paragraphs in the 
few newspapers that filled a vacant corner by label- 
ling him crank and long-haired prophet ; even the 
silence that greeted his pamphlets, his letters to the 
Press, and all the rest, hurt him for others rather 



236 THE CENTAUR xlv 

than for himself. His pain was altruistic, never 
personal. His dream and motive, his huge, un- 
wieldy compassion, his genuine love for humanity, 
all were big enough for that. 

And so, I think, he missed the personal mortifica- 
tion that disappointment so deep might bring to 
dreamers with an aim less unadulteratedly pure. 
His eye was single to the end. He attributed only 
the highest motives to all who offered help. The 
very quacks and fools who flocked to his banner, 
eager to exploit their smaller fads by joining them to 
his own, he welcomed, only regretting that, as Stahl 
had warned him, he could not attract a better class 
of mind. He did not even see through the 
manoeuvres of the occasional women of wealth and 
title who sought to conceal their own mediocrity by 
advertising in their drawing-rooms the eccentricities 
of men like himself. And to the end he had the 
courage of his glorious convictions. 

The change of method that he learned at last, 
moreover, was characteristic of this faith and courage. 

' I've begun at the wrong end,' he said ; ' I shall 
never reach men through their intellects. Their 
brains to-day are occupied by the machine-made 
gods of civilization. I cannot change the direction 
of their thoughts and lusts from outside ; the 
momentum is too great to stop that way. I must 
get at them from within. To reach their hearts, the 
new ideas must rise up from within. I see the truer 
way. I must do it from the other side. It must 
come to them — in Beauty.' 

For he was to the last convinced that death 
would merge him in the being of the Earth's 
Collective Consciousness, and that, lost in her deep 
eternal beauty, he thus might reach the hearts of 



xLv THE CENTAUR 337 

men in some stray glimpse of nature's loveliness, and 
register his flaming message. He loved to quote 
from Adonais : 

He is made one with Nature : there is heard 
His voice in all her music, from the moan 
Of thunder, to the song of night's sweet bird ; 
He is a presence to be felt and known 
In darkness and in light, from herb and stone, 
Spreading itself where'er that Power may move 
Which has withdrawn his being to its own. 

He is a portion of the loveliness 
Which once he made more lovely : he doth bear 
His part, while the one Spirit's plastic stress 
Sweeps through the dull dense world . . . 

And this thought, phrased in a dozen different 
ways, was always on his lips. To dream was right 
and useful, even to dream alone, because the beauty 
of the dream must add to the beauty of the Whole 
of which it is a part and an interpretation. It was 
not really lost or vain. All must come back in time 
to feed the world. He had known gracious thoughts 
of Earth too big to utter, almost too big to hold. 
Such thoughts could not ever be really told ; they 
were incommunicable. For the mystical revelation 
is incommunicable. It has authority only for him 
who feels it. A corporate revelation is impossible. 
Only those among men could know, in whose hearts 
it rose intuitively and made its presence felt as innate 
ideas. Inspiration brings it, and beauty is the vehicle. 
Their hearts must change before their minds could 
be reached. 

* I can work it better from the other side — from 
that old, old Garden which is the Mother's heart. 
In this way I can help at any rate . . . ! ' 



XLVI 

It was at the dose of a wet and foggy autumn that 
we met again, winter in the air, all London desolate ; 
and his wasted, forlorn appearance told me the truth 
at once. Only the passionate eagerness of voice and 
manner were there to prove that the spirit had not 
weakened. There glowed within a fire that showed 
itself in the translucent shining of the eyes and face. 

' I've made one great discovery, old man,' he 
exclaimed with old, familiar, high enthusiasm, ' one 
great discovery at least.' 

' You've made so many,' I answered cheerfully, 
while my real thoughts were busy with his bodily 
state of health. For his appearance shocked me. 
He stood among a litter of papers, books, neckties, 
nailed boots, knapsacks, maps and what-not, that 
rolled upon the floor from the mouth of the 
Willesden canvas sack. His old grey flannel suit 
hung literally upon a bag of bones, all the life there 
was seemed concentrated in his face and eyes — those 
far-seeing, light blue eyes. They were darker than 
usual now, eyes like the sea, I thought. His hair, 
long and disordered, tumbled over his forehead. 
He was pale, and at the same time flushed. It was 
almost a disembodied spirit that I saw. 

• You've made so many. I love to hear them. 
Is this one finer than the others ? ' 

338 



xLvi THE CENTAUR 339 

He looked a moment at me through and through, 
almost uncannily. He looked in reality beyond me. 
It was something else he saw, and in the dusk I 
turned involuntarily. 

' Simpler,' he said quickly, ' much simpler.' 

He moved up close beside me, whispering. Was 
it all imagination that a breath of flowers came with 
him .'' There was certainly a curious fragrance in 
the air, wild and sweet like orchards in the spring. 

* And it is—.? ' 

' That the Garden's everywhere ! You needn't go 
to the distant Caucasus to find it. It's all about this 
old London town, and in these foggy streets and 
dingy pavements. It's even in this cramped, 
undusted room. Now at this moment, while that 
lamp flickers and the thousands go to sleep. The 
gates of horn and ivory are here,' he tapped his 
breast. ' And here the flowers, the long, clean open 
hills, the giant herd, the nymphs, the sunshine and 
the gods ! ' 

So attached was he now to that little room in 
Paddington where his books and papers lay, that 
when the curious illness that had caught him grew 
so much worse, and the attacks of the nameless fever 
that afflicted him turned serious, I hired a bedroom 
for him in the same house. And it was in that 
poky, cage-like den he breathed his last. 

His illness I called curious, his fever nameless, 
because they really were so and puzzled every one. 
He simply faded out of life, it seemed ; there was no 
pain, no sleeplessness, no suff^ering of any physical 
kind. He uttered no complaint, nor were there 
symptoms of any known disorder. 

' Your friend is sound organically,' the doctor 
told me when I pressed him for the truth there on the 



340 THE CENTAUR xlvi 

stairs, ' sound as a bell. He wants the open air and 
plenty of wholesome food, that's all. His body is 
ill-nourished. His trouble is mental — some deep 
and heavy disappointment doubtless. If you can 
change the current of his thoughts, awaken interest 
in common things, and give him change of scene, 

perhaps ' He shrugged his shoulders and looked 

very grave. 

' You think he's dying .? ' 

' I think, yes, he is dying.' 

'From—.?' 

' From lack of living pure and simple,' was the 
answer. ' He has lost all hold on life.' 

' He has abundant vitality still.' 

' Full of it. But it all goes — elsewhere. The 
physical organism gets none of it.' 

' Yet mentally,' I asked, ' there's nothing actually 
wrong ? ' 

* Not in the ordinary sense. The mind is clear 
and active. So far as I can test it, the process of 
thought is healthy and undamaged. It seems to 
me — ' 

He hesitated a moment on the doorstep while the 
driver wound the motor handle. I waited with a 
sinking heart for the rest of the sentence. 

*. . . like certain cases of nostalgia I have known 
— very rare and very difficult to deal with. Acute 
and vehement nostalgia, yes, sometimes called a 
broken heart,' he added, pausing another instant at 
the carriage door, * in which the entire stream of a 
man's inner life flows to some distant place, or person, 
or — or to some imagined yearning that he craves to 
satisfy.' 

* To a dream ? ' 

' It jnight be even that,' he answered slowly. 



xLvi THE CENTAUR 341 

stepping in. ' It might be spiritual. The religious 
and poetic temperament are most open to it, and 
the most difficult to deal with when afflicted.' He 
emphasized the little word as though the doubt he 
felt was far less strong than the conviction he only 
half concealed. * If you would save him, try to 
change the direction of his thoughts. There is 
nothing — in all honesty I must say it — nothing that 
/ can do to help.' 

And then, pulling at the grey tuft on his chin 
and looking keenly at me a moment over his glasses, 
— ' Those flowers,' he said hesitatingly, ' you might 
move those flowers from the room, perhaps. Their 
perfume is a trifle strong. ... It might be better.' 
Again he looked sharply at me. There was an odd 
expression in his eyes. And in my heart there was 
an odd sensation too, so odd that I found myself 
bereft a moment of any speech at all, and when my 
tongue became untied, the carriage was already dis- 
appearing down the street. For in that dingy 
sick-room there were no flowers at all, yet the perfume 
of woods and fields and open spaces had reached the 
doctor too, and obviously perplexed him. 

' Change the direction of his thoughts ' ! I went 
indoors, wondering how any honest and even half- 
unselfish friend, knowing what I knew, could follow 
such advice. With what but the lowest motive, of 
keeping him alive for my own happiness, could I 
seek to change his thoughts of some imagined joy 
and peace to the pain and sordid facts of an earthly 
existence that he loathed ? 

But when I turned I saw the tousled yellow- 
headed landlady standing in the breach. Mrs. 
Heath stopped me in the hall to inquire whether 
I could say ' anythink abart the rent per'aps } ' 



342 THE CENTAUR xlvi 

Her manner was defiant. I found three months 
were owing. 

' It's no good arsking 'im,' she said, though not 
unkindly on the whole. ' I'm sick an' tired of always 
being put off. He talks about the gawds and a Mr. 
Pan, or some such gentleman who he says will look 
after it all. But I never sees 'im — not this Mr. Pan. 
And his stuff up there,' jerking her head towards the 
little room, * ain't worth a Sankeymoody 'ymn-book, 
take the lot of it at cost ! ' 

I reassured her. It was impossible to help 
smiling. For some minds, I reflected, a Sankey 
hymn-book might hold dreams that were every bit as 
potent as his own, and far less troublesome. But 
that ' Mr. Pan, or some such gentleman ' should 
serve as a ' reference ' between lodger and landlady 
was an unwitting comment on the modern point of 
view that made me want to cry rather than to laugh. 
O'Malley and Mrs. Heath between them had made 
a profounder criticism than they knew. 

And so by slow degrees he went, leaving the outer 
fury for the inner peace. The centre of conscious- 
ness gradually shifted from the transient form which 
is the true ghost, to the deeper, permanent state which 
is the eternal reality. For this was how he phrased 
it to me in one of our last, strange talks. He 
watched his own withdrawal. 

In bed he would lie for hours with fixed and happy 
eyes, staring apparently at nothing, the expression on 
his face quite radiant. The pulse sank often danger- 
ously low ; he scarcely seemed to breathe ; yet it was 
never complete unconsciousness or trance. My 
voice, when I found the heart to try and coax his 
own for speech, would win him back. The eyes 



xLvi THE CENTAUR 343 

would then grow dimmer, losing their happier light, 
as he turned to the outer world to look at me. 

' The pull is so tremendous now,' he whispered ; 
' I was far, so far away, in the deep life of Earth. 
Why do you bring me back to all these little pains ? 
I can do nothing here ; there I am of use. . . . ' 

He spoke so low I had to bend my head to catch 
the words. It was very late at night and for hours I 
had been watching by his side. Outside an ugly 
yellow fog oppressed the town, but about him like an 
atmosphere I caught again that fragrance as of trees 
and flowers. It was too faint for any name — that 
fugitive, mild perfume one meets upon bare hills and 
round the skirts of forests. It was somehow, I 
fancied, in the very breath. 

' Each time the effort to return is greater. In 
there I am complete and full of power. I can work 
and send my message back so splendidly. Here,' 
he glanced down at his wasted body with a curious 
smile, ' I am only on the fringe — it's pain and 
failure. All so inefi^ective.' 

That other look came back into the eyes, more 
swiftly than before. 

' I thought you might like to speak, to tell me — 
something,' I said, keeping the tears with difficulty 
from my voice. ' Is there no one you would like to 
see } ' 

He shook his head slowly, and gave the peculiar 
answer : 

' They're all in there.' 

* But Stahl, perhaps — if I could get him here .? ' 

An expression of gentle disapproval crossed his 
face, then melted softly into a wistful tenderness 
as of a child. 

' He's not there — yet,' he whispered, ' but he will 



344 THE CENTAUR xlvi 

come too in the end. In sleep, I think, he goes 
there even now.' 

' Where are you really then ? ' I ventured. 
* And where is it you go to ? ' 

The answer came unhesitatingly ; there was no 
doubt or searching. 

* Into myself, my real and deeper self, and so 
beyond it into her — the Earth. Where all the 
others are — all, all, all.' 

And then he frightened me by sitting up in bed 
abruptly. His eyes stared past me — out beyond the 
close confining walls. The movement was so 
startling with its suddenness and vigour that I 
shrank back a moment. The head was sideways. 
He was intently listening. 

' Hark ! ' he whispered. ' They are calling me ! 
Do you hear . . .V 

The look of joy that broke over the face like 
sunshine made me hold my breath. Something in 
his low voice thrilled me beyond all I have ever 
known. I listened too. Only the rumble of the 
traffic down the distant main street broke the 
silence, the rattle of a nearer cart, and the footsteps 
of a few pedestrians. No other noises came across 
the night. There was no wind. Thick yellow fog 
muffled everything. 

* I hear nothing,' I answered softly. ' What is it 
that you hear } ' 

And, making no reply, he presently lay down 
again among the pillows, that look of joy and glory 
still upon his face. It lay there to the end like 
sunrise. 

The fog came in so thickly through the window 
that I rose to close it. He never closed that 
window, and I hoped he would not notice. For a 



I 



xLvi THE CENTAUR 345 



k 



sound of wretched street-music was coming nearer — 
some beggar playing dismally upon a penny whistle 
— and I feared it would disturb him. But in a flash 
he was up again. 

* No, no ! ' he cried, raising his voice for the first 
ime that night. * Do not shut it. I shan't be able 

to hear then. Let all the air come in. Open it 
wider . . . wider ! I love that sound ! ' 

* The fog ' 

' There is no fog. It's only sun and flowers and 
music. Let them in. Don't you hear it now } ' he 
added. And, more to bring him peace than 
anything else, I bowed my head to signify agreement. 
For the last confusion of the mind, I saw, was upon 
him, and he made the outer world confirm some 
imagined detail of his inner dream. I drew the sash 
down lower, covering his body closely with the 
blankets. He flung them off^ impatiently at once. 
The damp and freezing night rushed in upon us like 
a presence. It made me shudder, but O'Malley only 
raised himself upon one elbow to taste it better, and 
— to listen. 

Then, waiting patiently for the return of the 
quiet, trance-like state when I might cover him 
again, I moved towards the window and looked out. 
The street was empty, save for that beggar playing 
vilely on his penny whistle. The wretch came to 
a standstill immediately before the house. The 
lamplight fell from the room upon his tattered, 
broken figure. I could not see his face. He 
groped and felt his way. 

Outside that homeless wanderer played his penny 
pipe in the night of cold and darkness. 

Inside the Dreamer listened, dreaming of his gods 
and garden, his great Earth Mother, his visioned 



346 THE CENTAUR xlvi 

life of peace and simple things with a living 
Nature. . . . 

And I felt somehow that player watched us. I 
made an angry sign to him to go. But it was the 
sudden touch upon my arm that made me turn 
round with such, a sudden start that I almost cried 
aloud. O'Malley in his night-clothes stood close 
against me on the floor, slight as a spirit, eyes ashine, 
lips moving faintly into speech through the most 
wonderful smile a human face has ever shown me. 

' Do not send him away,' he whispered, joy 
breaking from him like a light, ' but tell him that 
I love it. Go out and thank him. Tell him I hear 
and understand, and say that I am coming. Will 
you . . .? ' 

Something within me whirled. It seemed that 
I was lifted from my feet a moment. Some tide of 
power rushed from his person to my own. The 
room was filled with blinding light. But in my 
heart there rose a great emotion that combined tears 
and joy and laughter all at once. 

* The moment you are back in bed,' I heard my 
voice like one speaking from a distance, * I'll go ' 

The momentary, wild confusion passed as suddenly 
as it came. I remember he obeyed at once. As 
I bent down to tuck the clothes about him, that 
fragrance as of flowers and open spaces rose about 
my bending face like incense — bewilderingly sweet. 

And the next second I was standing in the street. 
The man who played upon the pipe, I saw, was 
blind. His hand and fingers were curiously large. 

I was already close, ready to press all that my 
pockets held into his hand — ay, and far more than 
merely pockets held because O'Malley said he loved 
the music — when something made me turn my head 



xLvi THE CENTAUR 347 

away. I cannot say precisely what it was, for first it 
seemed a tapping at the window of his room behind 
me, and then a little noise within the room itself, 
and next — more curious than either, — a feeling that 
something came out rushing past me through the 
air. It whirled and shouted as it went. . . . 

I only remember clearly that in the very act of 
turning, and while my look still held that beggar's 
face within the field of vision, I saw the sightless 
eyes turn bright a moment as though he opened 
them and saw. He did most certainly smile ; to 
that I swear. 

But when I turned again the street immediately 
about me was empty. The beggar-man was gone. 

And down the pavement, moving swiftly through 
the curtain of fog, I saw his vanishing figure. It 
was large and spreading. In the fringe of light the 
lamp-post gave, its upper edges seemed far above 
the ground. Someone else was with him. There 
were two figures. 

I heard that sound of piping far away. It 
sounded faint and almost flute-like in the air. And 
in the mudjLt.my feet the money lay — spurned utterly. 
I heard the last coins ring upon the pavement as 
they settled. But in the room, when I got back, 
the body of Terence O'Malley had ceased to 
breathe. 



THE END 



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